Free offer scams are all over the place. If you spend much time on the internet at all, chances are you’ve already come into contact with several of them. My hope is not to scare you with this post, but to make you scam-wise so that you can enjoy all the wonderful deals and free offers without fear of being tricked or cheated.
Who are the freebie scammers, and why are they trying to trick you?
There’s a wide variety of people and companies using bogus “free samples” and “free offers” to accomplish their goals.
Traffic seekers: Some legit companies promote “free offers” that they do not intend to honor just as a means of generating traffic to their websites. They have no intention to hurt you or steal information, but their offers are dishonest and a waste of your valuable time. Not dangerous scams, but certainly annoying.
Money seekers: Then there’s the money seekers. They offer you a neat freebie but require you to complete several surveys and promotional offers to redeem. Who hasn’t gone in circles with these before?! Avoid at all costs. Most who get entangled by these not only waste their valuable time, but they also end up forking out more money than they ever would have imagined – just for a simple free sample or free gift card that never arrives.
Personal information seekers: These are the worst scammers of all. What they want with your information is anybody’s guess. Most likely, it’s also money-related (like selling your info to advertising companies). They’ll create misleading websites on which to host their fake free sample, all to of steal your information. Always double-check when you find a free offer from a company you haven’t heard of.
Red flags to look for…
Now that we know who they are, how can we weed out the bad apples from the good? Picking out the fake freebies really is a piece of cake when you know what to look for. Here’s some red flags to pay attention to.
1. Google Ads for Free Samples: Usually, people don’t pay for Google Ads to advertise their free samples unless they’re planning on making a profit by doing so. A lot of the money-seeking scammers use Google Ads to promote a free sample of Snuggle or a free $1,000 gift card to Walmart (for example), which they use to get you caught in the endless maze of promotional offers to complete.
2. Word “Free” with a * next to it: Always look to see why that seemingly innocent * is beside the “Free” when you’re gearing up to redeem a free offer. Often, it means they want you to buy something first.
3. Limited giveaway with no date: There are a few good companies that host a giveaway, but they purposely leave out the date it started or ends. This gives them the freedom to leave the free offer up for as long as they like, even though it’s expired. An example of this would be a giveaway hosted by Right at Home this year. 3,000 winners of a summer sample pack that stayed on their site months after it reached the limit. Your best bet for avoiding these would be contacting me or anyone who consistently keeps track of the latest free offers. Also, I do like to publicly keep track of available freebies here.
4. Too good to be true: ClichÃ©, I know, but if it sounds too good to be true, let that be a warning sign to you. There are plenty of dramatic examples I could give, but I think you can figure those out for yourself. A subtle example that one of my lovely Facebook fans brought to me recently was the “Free Stainless Steel Cake & Pie Spatula” from ï»¿Hi-Tech Kitchenware (http://hitechkitchenware.com). A stainless steel spatula would cost the company a bit of money, and shipping wouldn’t be super cheap either. There’s no way they could afford to send thousands of these out for free.
FYI: I did verify this company’s fraud on several scam alert sites.
5. Shoddy website with poor English: I’m going to pick on the Hi-Tech Kitchenware site again, because this was one of those “worst scams” I previously mentioned. When filling out free offers, most people start filling out the form without taking a look around or reading the text above. This person took advantage of that fact and made a site that looks nice and functional at first glance, but the grammar and spelling was terrible, and none of the “products” for sale could actually be clicked on or purchased. BIG red flag there! Just make sure you take a look around if you’re applying for a free sample or offer from a company you’ve never heard of.
Do enjoy the good ones!
I hope you come away from this feeling informed and empowered to weed out the bad freebies so that you can enjoy all the good ones. There’s a wealth of delicious, healthy, useful, educational, and fun free offers that pop up daily from wonderful companies you can trust! If you’re ever in doubt, feel free to contact me with a concern or question, and I’ll be happy to help. Have fun, and be safe!