How to Get Freebies Without Giving Up Too Much Personal Information

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Freebies are awesome. But giving up personal info, putting yourself at risk of identity theft, and having e-mail inboxes constantly clogged with spam? Not so awesome. There are ways, however, to snag loads of samples, perks, swag, and other promotional goodies at no cost—and with little or no risk.
ShopSmart magazine, the sister shopping-focused arm to Consumer Reports, outlines its top tips for the freebie-crazed in a new story dubbed “Freebie Heaven.”

Among the advice are several standards, including “liking” manufacturers and retailers on Facebook, and the idea of setting up a separate email address strictly for receiving freebies, coupons, newsletters, and promotional messages. Note that in most cases, though, retailers don’t actually require you to sign up for mailings in order to receive freebies. Getting e-mails is usually presented as an option, and it’s an option you can (and perhaps should) decline.

(MORE: Identity Theft: The Top 10 Scams)

ShopSmart also suggests that you lie for your own good:

Fudge your personal info. Many offers request names and birth dates. Make up something so that your identity remains private.

I think a lot of people do this sort of thing already. Which makes me wonder: Databases are supposed to know everything about consumers, but are their portraits of consumer behavior really that accurate if they’re based on millions of untruths?

In any event, probably the most useful part of the ShopSmart piece is where sites are listed that round up freebies. The roster consists of (which is actually mostly coupons and special promotions, not necessarily freebies),,, and All of these sites are loaded with a changing lineup of freebies from retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, and more.

(MORE: Must Be an Election Year: Bullets Are Flying Off the Shelves)

Just how much can you get for free? A recent HeyItsFree post runs down the blogger’s impressive haul collected over a four-week period:

Freebies Received
• Quaker oatmeal squares cereal
• Two packs of Crespo olives
• Full-sized can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes
• Seattle’s Best deluxe coffee
• Gevalia coffee
• Weber BBQ seasonings
• Propel Zero drink mix
• Crystal Light Mocktail drink mixes
• Milk-Bone Trail Mix dog snacks
• Fin electronic cigarette
• Curamin pain reliever
• Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine shampoo
• Arm & Hammer sensitive toothpaste
• Palmer’s cocoa butter stretch mark care
• Rootology environmental irritants
• Radiant Tampax & Always sample pack
• Hearos ear plugs
• New York Yankees fragrance
• Gucci Flora Garden fragrance
• Nature’s Bounty exercise bands
• Olay Pro Skin headband
• Color Scents trash bag
• Overtime pain relief lotion
• Mitt Romney sticker
• June 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine
• June 2012 issue of Working Mother magazine
• May 2012 issue of Smart Money magazine
• June 2012 issue of Smart Money magazine
• July 2012 issue of Smart Money magazine
• June 2012 issue of Maxim magazine
• July 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine
• June 2012 issue of Parenting magazine
• July 2012 issue of Parenting magazine
• June 2012 issue of Ebony magazine
• May 2012 issue of Jet magazine
• June 2012 issue of Jet magazine
• June 2012 issue of Elle Decor magazine
• June 2012 issue of Entrepreneur magazine
• Summer 2012 issue of Vim & Vigor magazine
• Four weeks worth of Wall Street Journal newspapers.

Nothing says “freebie heaven” like complimentary New York Yankees fragrances. Didn’t you always want to smell like Derek Jeter after a double header on a hot summer day?

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.