Protect Your Privacy Online While Signing Up for Freebies & Coupons

by Beth Montgomery on September 5, 2012

in Tips & Basics

When signing up online for freebies, coupons, and contests, you’re often asked for a lot of personal information that may result in spam, junk mail, and unwanted calls.

While you may not want to miss that call or email telling you that you won a sweepstakes, you also don’t want to wade through larges amounts of junk when quickly checking your email.

Protect Your Privacy Online

1. Get a dedicated email address. Sign up for a free email address with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail and use that email only when signing up for freebies, coupons, and other online offers. Don’t forget to check it at least once a week to make sure you didn’t win a contest!

2. Get a voice-only phone number. Sign up with Google Voice to get a free phone number where people can leave messages. While you can’t make calls from it, you can send unwanted calls there and still not miss if they call to notify you that you’ve won a contest. Again, don’t forget to check it once a week. If you’d like a Google alternative, try K7.

3. Read permissions. When grabbing a great freebies on Facebook, many glide through the permissions not bothering to read them. Stop and look, because you not realize what you are handing over online.

4. Check your Facebook permissions. Facebook is changing all the time. Stop and take the time to check your Facebook permission. While when you agree to hand over your information to a company, you can stop your friends from handing over your information.

5. Think before connecting through Facebook, GMail, or other accounts. Whenever possible, don’t join or sign up for websites through other accounts that hold your personal information. These sites may be taking your contacts and a whole lot more. If there is no other choice, make sure you read the permissions, privacy policy, and terms of use. I know that’s a lot, but scan them to make sure nothing jumps out at you.

6. Think before handing over too much personal information. While handing out your email address, phone number, and address is one thing, do not give your social security number, credit card number, bank account number, or other information that could come back to haunt you unless you are 100% sure you trust the site you’re giving it to and know why they need it.

7. Opt out of newsletters and mailings. Some sign-up forms have check boxes where you can opt out of future mailings or not join the company newsletter. Often this box is checked by default, but you can uncheck it and still get the offer.

8. Look for options to skip. After signing up, you may get survey questions or additional offers. Often it takes up most of the page, but if you look closely there is a tiny skip button available. Use it to skip through these offers more quickly. Keep watch for a “Thank you.” message. Often when you get these offers, you can close the page, because you’ve already submitted for your offer and it’s not necessary to continue.

9. Use a dedicated username and password. Don’t use your typical username and password. Instead, create on to use only when signing up for offers. This will help you avoid handing over your password for more important things to the wrong people.

10. Use auto-fill so you don’t forget. Take the time to set up an auto-fill program with your sign-up information, so you can quickly sign up for offers without accidentally handing out the wrong email address. I love Roboform, because it fills out almost any form without issues and has tons of other great features, but it is a paid service starting as low as $9.99 per year. However, there is a FREE trial available, if you’d like to try it out first.

If you prefer free, here’s a few free auto fill programs:

There are many easy ways to get free stuff online if you know where to look!

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