Bring On the Freebies! - NBC Bay Area

Bring On the Freebies!

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    "You can find a deal on almost anything, 'cause they figure, if they get your contact information, then they can keep sending you coupons so you'll buy more stuff from them,” Coocen said.

    If you are on the hunt for bargains in this tough economy, there are plenty of Web sites offering freebies.  Although sometimes the deals may not be as good as you think.

    "It all started as a way to save money, even a few dollars here and there,” said Nicole Coocen, of Enfield.

    Coocen has done her share of bargain hunting online at sites like freeinternet.com, landing free cat food, Capri Sun, business cards and much more.

    There are also sites like:

    "You can find a deal on almost anything, 'cause they figure, if they get your contact information, then they can keep sending you coupons so you'll buy more stuff from them,” Coocen said.

    Some deals require consumers to fill out surveys and that's how Nicole says she landed much of her free stuff.

    "Those people, they want your opinion.They want to send you free stuff," Coocen said.

    But a word of warning, there are plenty of online offers that aren't what they seem.  Some require multiple purchases before your freebie will arrive. Others either get you to sign up for services you probably don't need or they'll get your personal information.

    "Consumers really need to keep their antennas up," said Jerry Farrell, Consumer Protection Commissioner.  He encourages people to do business with well-known companies.

    "Do you really want to purchase from someone you've never heard of or do you want to go to someone who's had an online and bricks and mortar presence for many years that you know if there's a big problem it's going to get dealt with," he said.

    Also, make sure any site you do business with is secure. Look for the https in the address and Farrell says be extra careful with e-mail offers.

    "Very often, these e-mails are total scams or partial scams,” Farrell said.

    Other things you can find for free online:

    If you do try to cash in with freebies online, make sure you read the fine print, so you know exactly what you're in for.

    "If it sounds too good to be true, yeah, it is," said Coocen.

    Yet, if you're careful, you can find deals online and save in these tough times.