By now, you are probably aware of websites that promise to send you free merchandise by mail. These are typically companies that want you to try out their products so they can get you as a customer. Not a bad tactic really…I mean, how many times have you stopped at the sample tables at your local Costco, supermarket, or other retailer and tried the item they were sampling? I do it all the time, and in many cases I end up liking the product enough to buy it on the spot!
So the same concept applies to the numerous websites that promise to send you free samples in the mail just for signing up with them. I personally know several friends of mine who seem to be constantly telling me about some shampoo sample they received one day and the diaper sample they received the next. And the products usually seem to be useful everyday products. So when I first started hearing about these sites, it seemed like a great way to flex those frugality muscles to save some money on products I would use everyday. I was intrigued and even excited to get signed up on these sites and started doing some research. I found out some things that are both interesting as well as a bit concerning in some cases.
Right off the bat I noticed that there are just so many of these sites out there. When you have a few hours to spare (I know you don’t of course), try doing an internet search for a term like “free sample sites”. You could literally spend hours or even days looking through the results. But another thing I noticed were comments other people had written about some of these free sample sites on various forums or websites. I saw comments like “this is a scam” or “I signed up and never received anything”. I discovered that some of these sites are indeed just scams to get your personal information. But I also discovered that there are legitimate sites as well that do send out free merchandise so you can sample their products. So how do you avoid the scams and still get free samples in the mail? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about signing up to one of these sites:
Do they really need all this personal information about you?
The answer to that question is they don’t. If the site is going to send you free samples in the mail, they probably need your name and address but little else. They will probably also ask for an email address (discussed in the next point), but other than that, what else would they need? Do they need a credit card number? NO. Do they need your social security number? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Even your birth date shouldn’t be a required piece of information. Your personal information in the hands of the wrong person can cost you…big time. Don’t trade it for some free samples.
Do you want to give our your primary email address?
You probably already have more than one email address. Start a separate one just for signing up for these sites. At the very least you are saving yourself from having your inbox buried in spam. And quite possibly, you are saving yourself from a hacker stealing your identity. Don’t underestimate what hackers can do with any piece of personal information.
Have you ever heard of this company or website?
There are plenty of legitimate companies giving away free samples by mail. Don’t risk getting scammed by some website you’ve never heard of. Ask around to see if anyone you know has experience with getting free samples from the site you are considering. Even in the internet age, a personal referral is best.
Do you really want to fill out that 10 page survey?
This one isn’t so much about getting scammed as it is about getting annoyed. Some of these sites ask you to fill out a long survey in order to try out a product. The site might be legitimate but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth your time. Your time is precious, especially if you are a busy mom, so don’t just give it away!
I hope you find these tips to be useful. And I hope you do score some free merchandise… because after all, we all love free, right?
Lillian Venzo is a frugal mom who loves to discover free and discounted items for her family and friends. You can connect with Lillian as she shares all her discoveries and other interesting information on her blog at www.thehomeoffree.com.