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Avoiding Scams On Internet Freebies

Updated on April 28, 2013

It's almost impossible to spend time on the internet without running across a seemingly endless stream of free offers, and while viewing and considering some of these may be interesting avoiding scams on internet freebies is imperative in protecting your privacy and personal information. There are a fair amount of reputable companies that offer freebies as a way to attract business and gain a good public relations posture, and there are even more shady actors out to take advantage of the trusting and careless among us.

The dangers associated with scams on internet freebies can range in severity from those that merely want to obtain your basic contact information so it can be shared with others pitching their goods to those that are after your financial information so that they can drain your bank accounts or run up a huge debt on your credit cards. Still others offer free downloads that can place spyware on your computer or even hold it for ransom by locking all the computer functions until you pay up. All of these are horrible to deal with when they occur, but it is factual to say that 99% of these can be avoided with the application of due diligence on the part of the individual.

So what is the best way to avoid scams on internet freebies that actually work? The smart way is to read the entire terms of a freebie offer before divulging any information, including the privacy notice attached to the offer in it's entirety. Yes, it's a hassle and it may take a few minutes but that 25 cent freebie can cost you thousands if you fail to recognize you are being duped. Only accept freebie offers from well-known national companies with a good reputation, and for heaven's sake if it sounds too good to be true it probably is - no one gives away a $1,500 computer because you are the 1,000th visitor from Gary, Indiana.

Never give any financial information whatsoever over the internet to anyone whenever possible - if you have to pay for shipping or some other aspect of a free offer use PayPal or some other online banking vendor. This way if your information is stolen it is better to lose the $50 in your PayPal account than to lose the $5,000 in your checking account or to have your credit card maxed out.

Be smart about your address, telephone number and email address too. There is absolutely no need for an offer to get a free bag of candy to come along with the request for your home and cell phone numbers. This should raise and immediate red flag that your information will be shared to telemarketers almost as soon as you give it. Open a separate "junk mail" email account specifically for the purpose of accepting free offers if you are inclined to seek these, thereby avoiding hundreds if not thousands of monthly spam emails trying to get you to make a purchase or accept another freebie.

Finally, if you absolutely must download a program or PDF make certain that it is from a reputable website that you know and trust. Make a point to run frequent security scans on your computer at least twice weekly, and if you download a program delete it from your computer
files as soon as the information you need has been obtained and digested.

How often do you run a computer security scan?

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