Requesting free stuff and other offers can be a fun and rewarding experience, but some caution is recommended, especially if you are new to the world of freebies. Getting product samples delivered to your door, downloading free software, and getting money-off vouchers from established sites can save you money.
But while there are many genuine freebies online, scams do exist and tend to outweigh the real free stuff available. What may look like a brilliant offer may in fact be something quite sinister. With this in mind, it is important to know what to look for when searching out bargains.
The first thing to be aware of is offers that appear too good to be true. Often, these types of freebies will arrive via e-mail, but they are not limited to this method. You can also find them while surfing the Web in banner and text advertisements, or advertised on message boards. Deals such as free iPhones, iPads, holidays, PlayStations and so on are never what they seem. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, these promotions are outright bogus, or involve an endless array of work (such as requiring you to register for multiple unrelated offers). Remember: Don’t rush into registering for attractive deals. Usually, some basic research will uncover the truth about a particular offer. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Spam is a fact of life on the Internet, but there are ways to minimise the risk. The term can be described as “unsolicited junk e-mail” – that is, marketing e-mail you have not given permission to receive. This is very different than opting into a newsletter service, for example, in which case you will grant permission before subscribing.
When you request freebies from genuine providers, they should provide an option to opt out of receiving marketing materials. In the event a freebie can only be obtained by subscribing to a newsletter, the company should provide some form of unsubscribe facility.
One way to ensure your primary e-mail mailbox remains clutter-free is to set up a secondary e-mail account. By doing so, any promotional messages you may receive as a result of requesting free stuff will remain separate from your work or personal address.
Viruses and Malware
If you are using the Internet, some form of virus protection is highly recommended. In recent years, viruses and other malware have become increasingly sophisticated. It is important that you keep your anti-virus program up-to-date and perform regular system scans. An anti-malware program is also worth considering as a secondary option to catch spyware and other harmful applications, on the off chance your primary solution fails to detect.
When downloading software – especially software that you are not familiar with – it is worthwhile doing some research prior to installation. This can be especially the case with free software, which from time to time, is known to contain some forms of spyware. Having said that, there are plenty of legitimate and completely safe free software programs available online. Just be sure to do the research beforehand – and keep your security tools up to date!