Are Free iPod Offers a Scam?

Have you seen ads like this on the internet and wondered if they’re for real?

Free Ipod

Well, they’re for real, but I don’t advise signing up for this kind of deal. Here’s why…

When you see any “free” offer, you should be very careful. Very few things are really free. You should ask yourself these kinds of questions:

Question:

An ipod costs $69 to $399 dollars. How are they paying for it if they’re giving it to me for free?

Answer:
You have to give them something of value.

Question:

What do I have that’s valuable to them?

Answer: A lot.

  • Your personal information – you have to give them your name, email, home address, gender, date of birth, and phone number. They use this information to send offers to your email account, to your home via direct mail, and to your phone with telemarketers.
  • Your credit card – you also are required to sign up for one of the offers they present to you. All of these offers will involve giving them your credit card number. The offers are things like a Blockbuster online rental membership, DVD and music clubs, credit card offers, ringtones & horoscopes. They are paid a bounty from these companies when you sign up. Companies will pay anywhere from $10 – $70 per sign up.
  • Your friends and family – in order to qualify for the free item you have to get 5 friends or family members to sign up AND request one of their offers.

See how the money is now adding up? The company will receive possibly $40 per sign up which equals $240 (6 users x $40).

Were you worried they weren’t going to make any money on this deal? Don’t worry, they will still make more.

In fact, Eliot Spitzer, the fireball New York Attorney General has recently filed suit against Gratis Internet, the parent company of sites Freeipods.com, FreeCDs.com, FreeDVDs.com, and FreeVideoGames.com (just an aside – “gratis” means “free” in Spanish).

The suit alleges that Gratis:

“… sold personal information obtained from millions of consumers under a strict promise of confidentiality.

From 2000 through 2004 Gratis made numerous explicit promises to the users of its web sites about protecting personal information. Among the promises the company made were:

‘We will never give out, sell or lend your name or information to anyone’;

‘We will never lend, sell or give out for any reason your email address or personal information’;

‘We at [Gratis web site] respect your privacy and do not sell, rent or loan any personally identifiable information regarding our customers to any third party’; and

‘Please note that we do not provide your E-mail address to our business partners.’

Even on its sign-up pages, Gratis promised consumers that it ‘does not . . . sell/rent emails.’

However, the Attorney General’s investigation confirmed that Gratis’s owners, Peter Martin and Robert Jewell, repeatedly violated these promises during 2004 and 2005 by selling access to lists of millions of Gratis’s customers to three independent email marketers. The marketers then sent hundreds of millions of email solicitations to those users, on behalf of their own customers. In each of these deals, Gratis wrongfully shared between one and seven million confidential user records.

This is believed to be the largest deliberate breach of a privacy policy ever discovered by U.S. law enforcement.


Need another reason to avoid offers like these?

Here’s a good one – if you jump through all their hoops and qualify for your free ipod, you’ll have to send them an IRS W-9 form, since the iPod’s value will have to be counted as revenue.

What information is provided on a W9? Oh, only your name, address, and Social Security Number. Is that the kind of information you want in the hands of these people? I don’t think so.
Save your pennies and buy your own stinking iPod. That’s what I recommend.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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34 Comments

  1. There is an email going around sent by most of my contacts to all their contacts telling them to leave theyr email and password for a free ipod. then sends letters to people using theyr stolen accounts to get personal and private information. If you happen to recieve any emails offering free ipods dont answer them or click any of its links. If any thing try to contact the sender and ask them if they sent the email. If they didn’t send it someone may have theyre password! I would suggest changing your password immediately if you think you have fallen for this rapidly spreading scam.

  2. TO ALL US CONSUMERS: ALERT: !!!BEWARE OF THE BLACK WIDOW AKA ( JACKIE LILES } SHE HAS BEEN KNOW TO ROB PEOPLE BLIND, DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY, !!! WHEN SHE STRIKES,!!! SHE STRIKES HARD

  3. Posted by Edward Romanoff
    Attention Internet users! Identity Theft is a Goner!

    Motioncodes is a new science that has actually been around for thousands of years. For a moment, think about how you distinguish one person from another. What is recognized and stored in memory? How is this information gathered? What sets us apart to make us unique? Answer: subconscious expressions (body language) of the face and body. The progression of technology: from caves drawings of our distant ancestors to paintings, photography, to film, and finally computers-allows us to remotely (via any surveillance camera) pinpoint the whereabouts and identify/verify a criminal. We can digitize and store human body movements that are unique to everyone-just like fingerprints. There are numerous applications! For example: It makes crime impossible to commit (that’s right! IMPOSSIBLE). Just imagine: no crime, no terrorists, no wars, no identity theft. But…there is a strong opposition to the elimination of crime. Presently in the U.S. alone there are millions of people that make a living from fighting crime: police, lawyers, prison guards, and the media. Many of these people would lose their jobs. We submitted motioncodes to the government, security agencies, and the media. With no surprise, we have received no response! So these are the obstacles before us now: the CRIMINALS and the CRIME FIGHTERS. What to do? We are appealing directly to the public and forming a membership organization to force this Crime Processing Industry to implement a motioncodes crime prevention system. If you are interested in helping us with our efforts, please contact The Preventech Foundation and you will receive more information about motioncodes products and systems, at motioncodes@yahoo.com

  4. I have received phone calls to my cell phone telling me I have won 400 dollars worth of airline vouchers. They already knew my name and address, and said they needed the routing number off of a voided check. I was wondering if a check routing number is sufficient info for them to steal my identity.

  5. I was scammed by a freebies site within YourGiftsFree Network. I requested a $100 payout but got denied of it cause of “fradulent activity”. Apprently My name does not exist and my address doesnt exist on the face of the Earth.

    I opened a support ticket and asked them to explain why I was on hold and what is fradulent activity, they refused to elaborate on it and said “Your Account is on hold indefinitely. Thanks.”

    Bottom Line: Screw YourGiftsFree , screw all freebie websites! They are all viral scams as explained by
    http://www.uglx.org/scam2

  6. This is an excellent article. I should have my pre-teen read it, who is always clicking on free ipod, free digital camera, and other free offers while online. I have tried to explain the dangers, especially since it actually MY information that would be going out to one of these free offer sites, not my pre-teen. I have often read about identity theft, and it’s a great concern of mine. I recommend that people begin to educate themselves, or things may get worse. If we all work together to protect ourselves, then most people would be safer, and lessen the likelyhood that identity theives would be successful in this crime. There is another great article about how to protect yourself from identity theft here: http://www.peoplesearchnews.com/security/tips-for-preventing-identity-theft/

  7. You have a pretty good blog, but you don’t post anymore?? Would love to see some updates!

  8. Thanks for the kind comments Christi. I’ve recently been working on the site content and template which launched just a few weeks ago. I’ve now updated the blog template to match and I’m back to posting new stories.

    Please stand by… :>

    dave

  9. Above are good suggestions, and may I offer another to protect one’s identity?
    All of our mail, letters, magazines, get our name-address portion of the mail, cut off, and it gets burned. This way if we throw away one of those mail pieces, there is no name or address that a dupster diver can get his/her hands on to commit thiefery.

    We also use a proxy with our computers, so the other end can’t directly trace us. Our email addresses are on-line addresses such as Yahoo.com, or gmail.com, or a service such as hotpop.com, which forwards our email to our actual email box. This makes it much harder to locate your acutal location.

    Hope this information is helpful.

    cheers!

  10. Excellent point. People who willingly give all that personal information, including their Social Security number, will be prime candidates for ID fraud. Unfortunately there is no free lunch! I thought this article had a good list of the types of people who are more likely to fall victim of Identity Theft:

    Who is more at risk of ID Theft?

    In today’s world, practically anyone can become an Identity Theft victim. Who can say with any certainty that their personal and financial information will never be breached or fall into the wrong hands? There are certain characteristics however that can make you more “at risk” of becoming a victim.

    Belonging to any of the high risk groups listed below does not necessarily mean you will have your identity stolen; it does mean there’s an increased chance compared to the average person. Also, if more than one of the following categories apply to you, the higher your chances of becoming a victim, and all the more reason for you to be more watchful and vigilant about ID Theft:

    * if you have never checked your credit report
    * if you seldom check each line item on your credit card and bank statements
    * if you are a college or university student
    * if you live or have lived with roommates
    * if you have changed your residence recently or move frequently
    * if you travel frequently or just came back from a long trip
    * if your residence was robbed or broken into
    * if you use your credit and debit cards frequently
    * if you have an unlocked or unprotected mail box
    * if you do not shred or destroy junk mail with your name, especially offers from credit card and finance companies
    * if you do not safeguard or shred or destroy your credit card, bank, and other financial statements
    * if you have ever lost or had any of the following stolen: wallet or purse, or any identifying document such as a Social Security card, driver’s license, government ID card, passport, medical insurance card, etc.
    * if you do not use anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall on your computer, or do not keep your software up-to-date
    * if you are a high income individual

  11. yea of course..ipod..it is ipod blog afterall!
    yes tey do give away ipod!

  12. Oh, and I’ve actually had two admins give out my email address to members they tend to forget about the Privacy Act laws, just stupid. And these sites are breeding grounds for SPAM. Why? Because when you sign up there is an area where they tell you who your referrals are and this area will give you the emails of these referrals. And the tripped out thing about this is these free sites have a privacy policy. LOL, whatever! They are breaking their own policies just by the setup of referrals.

  13. i actualy have gotten stuff from one of these sites i just recently recieved an xbox 360 and they didnt hit me with any bull crap i had to buy a couple of psters online that totaled for like 20 dollers and sign up for a block buster membership which i was already looking into doing any ways that only coast 17 a month. the only down side was some junk mail and junk e mail but if you call the number on the junk mail you can request an imediate hult from the company and i had to change my emal address all i sent was a money order to the companies i had to sign up for and i got an x box and and some posters and a ton of movies for about 40 bucks. i only gave my name and address. i thought it was pretty cool i guess you gotta know how to play them

  14. Is is possible that you can tell me what to do as far as notifying all credit departments of a judgment that I obtained from the court on a tenant who owes money for rent?

  15. I which to get the ipod, if i cannot get the free ipod pls email me thanks.

  16. pls give me the ipod to give my brother

  17. i actualy have gotten stuff from one of these sites i just recently recieved an xbox 360 and they didnt hit me with any bull crap i had to buy a couple of psters online that totaled for like 20 dollers and sign up for a block buster membership which i was already looking into doing any ways that only coast 17 a month. the only down side was some junk mail and junk e mail but if you call the number on the junk mail you can request Free iPods an imediate hult from the company and i had to change my emal address all i sent was a money order to the companies i had to sign up for and i got an x box and and some posters and a ton of movies for about 40 bucks. i only gave my name and address. i thought it was pretty cool i guess you gotta know how to play them

  18. While it may be true that there are some rogue sites out there, there are legit ones. Of course they make money from it, do you think they are going to do it for nothing? I dont think people are that stupid. If you are smart you can get items a lot cheaper than you would pay in a retail shop. If you are an inexperienced internet user they probably arent the best thing to get into. But if you are smart and have your wits about you they are great.

    As for identity theft…I don’t know how companies operate in the US, but here in Australia there is no way you can “steal someones identity” with their name and address and whatever else you have knowledge of. Documents are needed…

    And finally if you do get scammed, contact their webhost, contact the affiliate company that you completed the offer through, hell contact everyone that you can find that they are associated with and tell them what happened. Contact your Credit Card company and tell them you were scammed and you would like to reverse the transaction. Contact the company that you signed up to and tell them you want a refund etc etc.

    Be smart.

  19. I just tried one of those never ending sign up for offers prize offers. It took my 15 minutes before I just gave up. I signed up for 3 offers yet it did not count towards the actual offer submissions. I truly believe it is a scam because they offers never seem to end. You never get the prize; in fact they have offer prize offers within the prize offer itself. I can see how it can confuse someone and they may forget all about the orginal prize itself.

  20. So is there any offer that’s completely free or do they all have some sort of stinky catch?

  21. There’s always a “stinky catch.”

    If you really could be an Xbox 360, or Wii, or iPhone, or whatever for free than everyone on the planet (more or less) would be lining up to get one and the company giving them away would quickly go out of business.

    You can’t get something for nothing. There will always be someone offering it, however, and there will always be a catch.

  22. They are not all scams.

    I participated in the “freebies” several years ago and got several items. Ipod, ps2, 19″ lcd, pda, motorola Razr, Canon digital camera, and others. Fact of the matter is that the sites themselves do not take your Credit Card information. You sign up at the site and give your address and DOB (this is for identification purposes, and the address is so they know where to send the freebie to). After you have registered then you need to complete a certain number of “offers” from different companies. This is where your Credit Card comes into play. Many of the offers are from well known businesses such as Blockbuster Online, Dish Network, Audible.com, and many many others. Some of the offers are even trial offers to try their product(s), like Video Professor, various topical creams (like anti aging and such). You try the products and cancel if you don’t want them. Some trials are $1 and a minor shipping charge ($3-$6). And, honestly, many offers are more money. I legitimately signed up for the offers and continue to use some today (Blockbuster Online and Audible.com) To complete the offers they all require a Credit Card. So it is the actual business (offers) who the Credit Card info goes to, not the “freebie” company. The “freebie” company in turn gets paid for every signup to the offers that comes from their site. This is how the “freebie” company gets the money for the items they send to the customer (Ipod, xbox 360, etc).

    I actually owned a “freebie” company for about a year. I did not take anyone’s Credit Card info. All I had was the name and address where to send the “gift” to once they completed the required number of offers. Once I was paid from the offer companies for the signups I bought the specific gift from a reliable online company (usually Amazon.com) and shipped it to the customer. My company was well run and I had many satisfied customers. Unfortunately I had a lousy business partner who ran the program code and suddenly locked me out and shut down the site. I never heard from him again and to this day do not know why he did it. I did my best to honor my obligations to those who had partially completed their requirements for gifts. I paid them cash for the offers they had completed.

    So they are not always scams. They are merely a form of directing would be customers to businesses for a fee. I will admit that there were (are) some scam companies out there doing this. I was involved with a pretty good forum group that did a pretty good job of digging out the scams and evaluating the existing sites by grading them on reliability based on customer feedback on the forum.

    Most people don’t trust the sites and that is understandable. Some people have tried the sites and were overwhelmed by the requirements. Others, like me, have had great success with freebie sites. I have been out of the picture for about 2 years now. I would do it again. At one time when they started they were pretty close to free. They were called freebies because most of the early offers were free trials, so there was no fee’s as long as you canceled the offer before the trial period is over. If you know what you are doing and are careful about the sites you can certainly get any of the items for at least 1/2 of the retail value. Many of the old veterans are able to get them for 1/4 or better. Many of the veterans use the gifts to resell on Ebay for full retail value. So not only do the site owners make money but the customers make money when they resell the items. I personally kept everything I earned through freebies.

    Keep an open mind and be careful if you do a freebie site.

  23. GraveYardShift,

    Thanks for your post. It’s good to know that there are some honest promoters of free offers out there.

    Here’s the problem…

    There’s no way to know if someone is an honest promoter of free offers or is a scam artist. None. Knowing that, it’s foolish to give data – especially something like your date of birth and address – to someone who could be dishonest.

    Yes, I understand the economics of these free offers. Companies offer bounties for customers who sign up for this product or service and if you sign up for enough the bounties will be greater than the cost of the iPod, or Xbox or whatever it is.

    Here’s the problem with that…

    Many of these products or services have what is called a “breakage” model, which means that you sign up for a free 30 day offer and then are charged if you don’t call in to cancel the service. Companies like it because many people either forget to call in or are too shy to call, or the companies give them the run-around if they do call in.

    All in all, these free offers are for people who have more time than money, are willing to risk giving personal information to potential scam artists, and are willing to run around signing up for things that they’ll later have to cancel.

    I don’t recommend it. I’m glad it’s worked for you.

    Best regards,

    Dave

  24. Not all scams!!

    I am proud to say that I participated in these a couple of years ago. I received several “free” items. I will admit that they were not actually free. The thing is that these are (mostly) legitimate. The freebie company(s) (Gratis is one mentioned in the article above) do not take your credit card info. They take your name, address and DOB. These are so that they know who and where to send the item to and the DOB is because those under 18 are not legally allowed to participate.

    The credit card comes into play in the offers that are required to get the freebie. To get the freebie you must complete a certain number of offers from the sponsor companies. Many of the companies are well known companies, such as Blockbuster online, Dish Network, Direct TV, and several Credit Card Companies (usually Discover). The companies have you sign up for their service and pay for it with a credit card (obviously the credit card offers do not require you to provide them a credit card). There are many other offer companies as well. Most are for trial offers. They want you to try their product for a reduced rate, sometimes even free. This is where they got the name freebies. Although the free and cheap trials usually had a modest “shipping” charge.

    So technically NO you are not really getting something for nothing. But you can get items for significantly cheaper than retail. I participated in a forum site which was very popular (still is) for freebies. Many of the veteran members who know what they are doing are able to get the freebie for at least 1/2 retail price and many times as low as 1/4. They then turn around and sell them on Ebay for profit. So essentially they are free to them.

    I owned a freebie site for nearly a year. I ran it well and was gaining popularity. The only information I took on my customers was name, address and DOB. Once they had completed enough offers for the item they wanted I shipped the item to them from a reputable company such as Amazon.com. I had to wait to get paid from the offer companies first and it usually took 6-8 weeks from the time they finished until I shipped. But that is how the game is played. Unfortunately I had a partner who wrote the code for the program we used and suddenly shut it down without notice. I never heard from him again. I paid back most of the customers for the offers they had completed.

    So to answer the question of the topic here. I have to say that generally no they are not scams. I admit there are some out there to scam. But, when I participated in it both as a customer and as an owner I used common sense and I was not scammed. And I received over $1500 in freebies.

    Just my $.02

  25. I have been looking the internet for more than 3 months for ways to get Free Apple iPod Touch. I finally found something free, the concept is very simple you can get free ipod or anything from Amazon.com by completing some free offers and talking surveys. I invite everyone to check this site Free Apple iPod Touch for more information.

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