• Protecting Your Personal Information When You Sign up for Freebies.

    Freebie offers can be tempting, but – as I’m sure you know - many companies use these kinds of promotions (freebies, free sample offers, giveaways, and sweepstakes) to get your personal information so they can sell to you down the road – or sell your personal information to others.

    So how do you keep those freebies coming while still protecting your personal information?

    Here are some tips:

    1. Consider carefully whether to share your information at all. If you love the product line or company and you want to sign up for freebies and coupons on the corporate site by all means, do so. But if the freebie or the free sample doesn’t hold real value to you, think twice.

    It’s best to share personal information only with reputable, established sites, and to read the privacy policies on these sites and in association with these free offers. Make sure you read the fine print, as well as a site's privacy policy before you enter your name and email address for additional mailings. Each time you are signing up for something, you are most likely being put on a mailing list.

    It's a good idea, too, to check the URL of the freebie's registration page before you fill it out, to make sure you are on the website of the manufacturer or publisher. Third party sites, especially sites devoted to providing freebies, may be in the business of collecting and selling your personal information.

    2. Use a dedicated email address and phone number for freebie offers. You know that you can get a free hotmail or gmail account any day of the week. Of course, you’ll need to check this account periodically, to see if you’re the winner of any giveaways, as well as to take advantage of the offers you signed up for, but at least your personal email account won’t be flooded with sales pitches and advertisements.

    You can also get a free voicemail number from a variety of online providers (I personally use Innoport, which sends my voicemails to my email account as sound file attachments.). I use my “online” phone number anytime I’m asked to input my phone number in an online form.

    Also make sure your home phone number and cell phone numbers are registered with the National Do Not Call Registry.

    If you’re truly gaga for freebie offers, giveaways and sweepstakes, it might be worth thinking about getting a separate PO Box to use as your mailing address, so you aren’t sharing your physical address with the world.

    3. Opt out of “additional offers.” Many sign up forms will include a box that gives the company permission to contact you, as well as a second box that gives the company permission to share your contact information with their “partner sites.” Make sure to leave that box unchecked.

    4. Be smart. Don’t divulge personal information, such as your mother’s maiden name or your social security number on an online freebie sign up form. There’s no reason a company should need this kind of information.

    In the end, your best tool is your own personal judgment. If something goes against your instincts, close out your browser window and don’t provide any information at all. At Susies-Coupons, we do our best to make sure that the freebies we post are directly from the merchants providing the freebie (and not smarmy 3rd party sites that are only out to get and sell your personal data.) Still, it’s hard to tell at times, and it’s hard to tell what those companies might do with the information once they get it, as well. Trust your gut. And enjoy your freebies!

    For new freebie offers, as well as up-to-the minute news on coupons and savings, see our Daily Deals Blog

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