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It only takes two clicks to purchase something you want online: add to cart, pay. And while the convenience of this is undoubtedly beneficial, we can often forget about the perks of waiting to complete our purchase, in particular, the perk of receiving free samples.
This “try before you buy” mentality can often be overlooked, leaving you to forget the numerous companies that offer free trial samples of products at no cost. It’s both a benefit to you, the consumer, and the company, who can reach a wider audience and establish loyalty with return customers by offering free samples.
Unfortunately “free” as it is used online is a relative term, and many people are counting on you to overlook their conditions at the chance to receive a free sample. Online scams are a prevalent problem, and one that consumers always need to be aware of when shopping.
But getting free samples should not be a complicated process. That’s why we’ve laid out our tips for spotting freebie scams, including what to look for in a free offer and advice on keeping your information safe and secure. You can still relish in the benefit that is free samples, but in a safe way, that does not jeopardize your personal security.
Is this Legit? Signs of Freebie Scams
It is almost impossible to browse a website and avoid pop-ups and flashing banners promising discounts in exchange for your email address. The offers, along with the guarantee of free products, are tempting, and can be difficult to ignore the more you see them.
Although, and this is something that can be easily forgotten, how much personal information you give away is still your choice. We’re so used to giving out our email addresses and phone numbers that we forget to ask why anymore.
When it comes to companies offering free samples, you should not have to break out your wallet and share your personal history just to get a trial size shampoo in the mail. Especially since oftentimes this information is shared and sold to spammers without your knowledge.
You can spot a freebie scam early by looking for these tell-tale signs. Does the free offer require you to:
- Pay a processing, shipping or handling fee?
- Enroll in a membership or subscription with an auto-renewing fee?
- Fill out numerous surveys?
- Share information beyond your name, address and email?
- Input your credit card information?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, immediately close that tab and avoid this offer at all costs in the future. If you answered yes to one or more, it’s likely that this is a scam.
How to Safely Score Free Samples Online
Even with the possibility of scams, you do not have to be afraid of taking advantage of free samples online. So if you’re new to the process, or just want to sharpen your scam-radar, try following our advice.
Research the company offering the sample
The easiest way to avoid freebie scams is by getting samples from companies you trust. This seems easy, but it can be harder to follow if the company allows ads from third parties that take you away from their site.
No matter what, find out where the sample is coming from. You can check the url with a site like Urlvoid to verify their reputation. Just like when you purchase a product, look for customer reviews across multiple platforms to verify that it is a good offer. Lastly, ask yourself why this company is giving out free samples in the first place. Usually free samples are part of a temporary promotional offer, but some can be attached to the requirement that you purchase something first.
Read over the terms and conditions
A solid free sample offer will have little to no strings attached. However, some legitimate offers still require you to create an account, like on Amazon Prime, or sign up for emails.
It is important to figure out and understand all of the nuances of the offer before signing up. This includes:
- Looking for pre-checked boxes that sign you up for other offers
- Understanding the cancellation policy
- If it’s a membership, knowing when it auto-renews
- Understanding what information of yours could be shared
Requirements for one trial size sample shouldn’t be filled with legal jargon. Make sure the conditions are fair and straightforward and you’ll avoid freebie scams.
Safeguard your personal information
We can not stress this enough. Do not share personal information online unless you have a legitimate reason to. Most free sample offers simply need your name, address and email. If you are asked for anything beyond that, an alarm should go off in your head, especially if it is your credit card number or social security number.
If you’re signing up for multiple free sample offers, you can create a new email separate from your personal one to filter your inbox. You can also install security software to ensure that future scams are caught by your computer before they reach you. There are so many companies that offer free samples with little to no requirements that sharing any other information seems like an unnecessary risk.
If you feel like you may have been scammed by a free offer, you have options. First, check your bank statements to see if you’re being charged. If you have been wrongly charged, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), contact your local consumer protection agency, and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Where to Get Free Samples without Scams
Are you ready to receive your free samples?
There are plenty of companies, large and small, that send legitimate offers for free samples. As long as you are sticking to the advice above, you should feel safe and even excited to receive trial size beauty products (and more) at your door.
In addition to these online companies, RebateKey often has products that are 100% off after rebate. Many brands that use RebateKey are happy for new consumers, like you, to try their new products at little to no cost. It is a benefit for everyone, and an extra perk for you. It’s a cliche that still holds true, everyone loves free stuff.
So why pay full price when you don’t have to? Sign up for RebateKey and start earning cash back rebates instantly.