Surely as consumers, we wished we could get something without paying anything. It is more gratifying to get a free stuff and being able to save some money, right? With high number of frauds increasing, how can we truly say that a freebie is really free?

Here are questions to guide you in assessing if a product or service offered is a free or simply a scam.

1. Do you have to buy something before you get it?

Chances are, free sample items are bundled with the item you are required to buy in the first place. Usually bundle deals are advantageous to the seller as it gives them an opportunity to sell a higher volume of goods.

2. Do you have to pay it upfront and present a proof of purchase later on to get a rebate?

One of the many promotional strategies being used is a rebate in a form of a refund for what has been already paid. How do you avoid rebate traps? More often than not, companies mail their rebates and it could be a strategy to get your mailing address to further send you information or marketing documents. Also, it takes a lot of time for you to receive the mail, fill out some application, and then send it back to them, before finally getting what was promised to you. Worse, it could have been lost along the way.

3. Is there a trial period, then you have to pay for it after?

Trial period is supposed to give you the time to experience the service or product the company offers. However after that, they could have charge you right away if you happen to forget the time it will end, which happens a lot. According to Federal Trade Commission, some companies uses free trial to lure the customers in signing up for more products. What happens is, you do not actually get the service or product they refer as their freebie.

4. Do you have to fill out or apply for something?

Online application is very popular nowadays. Customers are asked to fill out application forms which is a very easy task if you are going to think about it. With just few clicks, you finish it up and you will just have to wait for the free stuff to appear on your doorstep. However, along the 3-5 minutes of clicking and typing through their application process, you might miss their disclaimer (which usually comes in very fine print!) only to find out later, you have agreed on something you are not supposed to. Oops!

5. Do you have to pay for shipping?

We know that there is a cost to ship goods and not unless the company has paid it out of their pocket, you will be asked to pay for it instead. However, in some cases, the company itself will asked you to pay for the shipping fee which may have included a big portion of the price of the product itself without realizing it.

Transparency is often confused with marketing strategies. Mostly they benefit sellers than consumers. So before finally saying something is really for free, assessment should have been done. Look closely before taking a leap.

Do you really get freebies or is it a con?