Finding free stuff on the web is easier than ever

HOUSTON John Morgan loves free stuff and jumps online whenever he can to grab a giveaway.

He said, "I can pick up toiletries, software, bathroom supplies -- things of that nature."

These days companies offer promotions on everything from trips to toothbrushes. Consumer guru Robyn Spizman says finding the deals used to be a treasure hunt, but now there are sites that do the search for you.

"More and more very credible websites are popping up on the Internet that are talking about steals," Spizman said. "It's like a goodie bag. Those are the ones you really want to follow."

From 'active freebies' to 'totally free stuff' to 'hey, it's free', you can find what you need in one centralized location. Morgan says it's a good way to branch out with different brands or items.

"It gives me a chance to try out different products things that I otherwise might not use if I had to buy them," he said. "Also it's nice to save money."

While each site works a little differently, typically, you have to register and answer a few questions to get the goods. But Spizman cautions you shouldn't have to share a credit card number or account information.

"Free means it's free," she said. "That means it does not cost you anything. It does not mean that then there's a shipping and handling charge, that there will be follow up calls or automatic refills."

Afraid your inbox is going to be inundated with offers?

"I'm worried about it a little bit," Morgan said. "I'm afraid if I send in my address and my name then I'll start getting inundated with a bunch of spam."

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests you use another email address set up for only this kind of contact to avoid any unwanted emails. Spizman says be careful about how much information you share and check the privacy policies.

She asked, "Are they adding you to lists? Are they selling your name as part of their lists? What are they legally able to do?"

Morgan loves getting the freebies but agrees you should be safe.

"I think it's a good idea to use two separate email addresses," he said.

Some sites are only about the free stuff, while others also offer coupons and sales tips too. There also sites such as Groupon, where if enough people sign up, a store will give a significant savings to those people as a "group discount."

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