Protect Yourself Against the Dangers of Online Freebies – Guest Post

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on December 4, 2009

Today’s guest post comes from Damien at Free Stuff 4 Free!  He offers 3 effective tips for protecting yourself when signing up for online freebies!  A very informative and helpful article!!!

In an age of increasing identity theft and personal fraud, protecting your personal details is of high importance.  If you’ve used the internet to score yourself freebies it won’t take you long to realise that along with the many benefits of online freebies there are also some possible dangers to be aware of, especially when it comes to sharing your personal information and contact details.  This article provides some great advice that will make your search for freebies more secure and successful.

1. Use a dedicated email address
It’s good practice to set up at least one email address dedicated just to signing up for free offers. If you don’t you run the risk of spam and unsavoury emails flooding your personal inbox. Your work email address should definitely not be used!  Some offers only allow one sample per email address but not household address.  Therefore, if you’re a serious freebies hunter, consider using multiple email addresses to take advantage of this fact.   By using more than one email address you can receive the same offer two or three times.

If you’re looking to setup a dedicated email address for freebies, I highly recommended a service such as Gmail.  It’s free and it offers great security and spam blocking.  Another advantage of using Gmail is the abilty to create instant disposable email addresses that are linked to the same account.  Just add +whatever to the username part of your email address.  So if your email address was johndoe@gmail, in the freebies sign up form you would simply enter your email address as johndoe+freebies@gmail.com.  You’d still get all emails sent to this address as usual, but if things ever get out of hand, you can simply create a filter to direct all mail sent to this address straight to your junk folder or trash.

2. Use a virtual voicemail service
You may also find it useful to have a virtual voicemail. Some free offers require a working phone number. Free accounts are readily accessible at sites like evoice.com and are relatively easy to set up. All of the messages left in your voicemail will be sent to you as an email or alternatively you can call and listen to the messages if you like. By setting up a virtual voicemail you will avoid any telemarketers and sales people that might otherwise harass you.

3. Use a PO Box
This is for the serious freebie hunter or those wanting that extra level of protection.  Using a Post Office Box service is an effective way to provide another layer of anonymity when supplying your details to freebie providers.  Mail also typically arrives faster at a PO Box than at a residential or business address.  If you use it for your other personal mail it can also provide a permanent address for you, which is especially useful if you move around a lot.  Please note that there is a cost for this service, but depending on what your requirements are it can be quite affordable with prices starting from $10 for six months.  Enquire at your local post office for more details.

With these great tips you can now hunt for free stuff, freebies and other giveaways with more confidence. Go forth and sign away!

More about FreeStuff4Free
FreeStuff4Free.com is a website that specialises in finding free stuff, free samples and freebies. We are also proud to be a sponsor of $5 Dinners. This site is visually compelling and easier to navigate than text based free sites. The site is updated daily and dead links removed regularly. There are no scams and all freebies are 100% legitimate.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaci December 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

I do all of the above, and in addition, I don’t use real name for internet offers. Choose something close to your real name, John, might become Johnnie, Doe might become Dow. Then if you receive any mail for “this” person, you will know they got your name from a junk mail source and it is not from your bank or some other business connection you have.

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Catherine December 4, 2009 at 11:58 am

Kaci has a great point! I used to do this when catalogs were all the rage and I could tell which companies had sold my address.

Also, there are a lot of freebies lately that do not allow PO boxes, so that might not be an option for everyone.

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Cheap Cindy December 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm

These are good tips. I have a made up “birth date” I use for these free offers as well, as many ask for your birthday when you sign up.

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Yasmin December 5, 2009 at 10:36 am

@Cheap Cindy, I use my birth date but in Japanese formatting. ;) Say my real birth date was June 10, 1980 then I’d just the Japanese format of 10/06/1980 instead of the western style of 06/10/1980. Much easier for me to remember in case the site requires a birth date if I forget my password.

Of course this only works if one’s birthday falls between the 1st and 12th of the month! Those whose birth dates fall between the 13th and 31st can use this format instead:

December 24, 1980 would be 12/24/1980. Use 3/6/1980 instead (12 would be 1 + 2 = 3; 24 would be 2 + 4 = 6).

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Cris Headley December 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

That is a great tip about gmail. I had no idea you could do that with gmail! Thanks for sharing :)

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AMY December 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Great tips! It is always important to protect oneself.

Thanks!

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natalie December 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Wow! Awesome article. I just found your site today, but consider me a fan :-)

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Chris December 4, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I just finished checking out that evoice service that was mentioned in the article. It says it’s only free for the first 30 days. Are there any truly free voicemail services that anyone knows about, not just a free trial?

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Tracey@ In Word Adorning December 5, 2009 at 1:08 am

I love your blog, I’ll be back often. . . acutally I’ll subcribe. This is great advice – I stopped signing up and registering for offers and freebies lately because I just feel I’ve got too much info out there. I’m taking all of this advice asap. Thanks. May I share this info and link to you and the orignial author?

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom December 5, 2009 at 10:17 am
Yasmin December 5, 2009 at 10:17 am

Re Tip #2: If you have a GMail account then use Google Voice and tie it into that account. http://voice.google.com . Yes, it’s currently in beta testing but you can request an invite and they’ll most often send an invite within 24 hrs. Best of all it’s FREE!

Re Tip #3: Most companies do NOT send to PO Boxes however setting up a mail box with a company like The UPS Store or any other local store is inexpensive and will act like a “normal” address for you. Example, I use The UPS Store so my address is (and this is a fake addy similar to mine)
My Name
123 Main St #A-123
My City, State 00000

The #A-123 is the building (because it’s one of four buildings in that plaza) while 123 is my box number but the post office reads it as an “apt” thus companies that do not deliver to post office boxes will send there because they think it’s an apt.

Packages can be left with them by UPS, FedEx, etc, etc.

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