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Is That Free Offer Legit? Tips that Can Help Everyone loves the chance to cash in some great free stuff, but navigating the world of freebie offers, especially online, can be like navigating a minefield. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there use the love others have of taking advantage of free deals to scam them out of money or personal details that can be used in identity theft scams. All of this gloom and doom doesn?t mean that you have to give up on free things altogether, however. The good news is that there are some simple, common sense steps you can take protect yourself from online freebie scammers. These tips will help give you the confidence that you can enjoy taking advantage of free offers without the fear of ending up facing some negative consequences. First and foremost, when you are checking out a free offer on the Internet, take a closer look at the website, beyond just reading the words and figuring out what you have to do get the free goods. Does the website look like it was made by a professional, with some consideration, or does it look like a five minute amateur job? Are typos and clip art the order of the day, or does it look like a website any business would be proud to call its own? What about the web address ? is a domain name that matches the business the website claims to represent, or is a ?free? domain address that includes the name of the domain company in the address? All of these factors can be red flags that determine the difference between a scam and a legitimate free offer. If the website looks half hearted or doesn?t seem to exactly ?match? the company it purports to represent, then don?t even think about trying to get anything from it. When you?re reasonably sure that the website is actually the front of a legitimate business, it?s time to turn your attention to the privacy policy of the website. The best privacy policies guarantee you that the email address you use to sign up for this offer will not be shared with any other companies ? but when it comes to free stuff, those kinds of privacy policies are few and far between. Many companies cover the costs of the free things you get by selling your email address to other companies that may have offers you they think you might be interested in. If you can?t find a privacy policy that lets you opt out of getting unwanted solicitations, at least make sure the site is secure and that any personal information can?t be obtained by hackers. Other things to look out for when you?re looking for freebies is products that are free but that require you to pay a shipping charge that seems beyond the pale for what it should cost to ship and freebie offers that seem to ask for way more information than needed for what the product actually is. Twenty pages of personal information for a travel size bottle of shampoo? That doesn?t make sense, and it should set off warning bells in your head. All of these red flags aside, giving out some amount of personal information comes part and parcel with freebie offers. There are a few things you can do to make life easier on yourself. Set up an email account that you will use specifically for freebie offers so all of the inevitable spam doesn?t clog up your main account. Use a phony phone number (preferably one that can?t be anyone else?s, like one that starts with 555). Last but not least, if you?re unsure about an offer, keep on moving. Better safe than sorry.

Following Up on Fallacies about Getting Free Stuff ?Free stuff? ? the mere whisper of the words is often enough to make many people throw common sense out the window and head for the free goods like a missile to a target. And then there are those people whose eyes glaze over when they hear those words, because they can?t believe anything worth having can actually be free. The truth about free stuff is really somewhere in the middle. Yes, you can really and truly cash in on many freebie deals for things that you want to have, but a healthy sense of cynicism about free gear is also useful. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind about free stuff. The first myth you should throw out the window is that nothing good comes for free. The fact of the matter is that the price tag on a good doesn?t always match up to the quality, and there are many great free things out there. Case in point: music. Sure, everyone has heard the scare stories about file sharing online, and maybe some big record labels will come after you if you focus on their artists. Dig a little below the surface, however, and you can find a whole new world of really great bands that are more than happy for you to listen to their music over and over again. The same goes for free software. People on the cutting edge of technology who have a passion for creating new and efficient applications often develop open source code software. They?re doing it for the love of it, and they often have more talent than any ten suit-and-tie tech guys trying to hock their latest product for a mega profit margin. Here is where the reality part comes in, however. Yes, you can find wonderful things that are completely free ? but yes, you can also find a lot of free things that aren?t worth your time at all and in some cases can cause you a lot of trouble. The net is a great place to fall victim to a ?free stuff? scam, but you can also sometimes come across these scams in the mail as well. If something is free, but requires you to give your credit card number or bank details, run the other way. Another myth people have about free stuff, especially free stuff on the internet, is that when you try to cash in, the only free stuff you will be getting is an inbox full of more spam than you can handle. The truth about this is, well, that is can certainly be true. Many companies give away free things in exchange for your email address, so they can try to hit you up to purchase things in the future. What makes this a myth, however, is that it can be avoided. If you don?t want to choke on an inbox of spam, and who could blame you, set up a special (free) email account that you will use exclusively for freebie hunting. You?ll have the best of both worlds. The last myth about free stuff involves the ?catch? people are always looking for. Often, for free stuff, the catch is a bit of junk mail or email or the fact that you have to submit to a time consuming survey. Sometimes, the catch is that if you get free stuff through a trial offer, if you don?t cancel it, it keeps coming, and this time you have to pay. The truth about these catches is, however, that the catch is in the eye of the beholder. These things don?t make products any less free; so don?t write off every free offer offhand. You might just find a catch you can live with to get a great free product you really want.

The Ins and Outs of Free Writing Contests (free writing contests) Free writing contests are available by the thousands. They are virtually a dime a dozen on the Internet. No matter what your niche is in the writing community there is a free writing contests out there for you. How do you know which ones to enter and which ones are legitimate? That?s simple. You do what you do best-- research. While providing the story for the free writing contest will probably be the easy part, researching the thousands of available contests will be a daunting task. If this is un-chartered water for you, you have the start at the beginning. Finding what free writing contests are available. Grab a notebook or start a word document and list the contests that are available. Beside each contest name you will want to put what kind of writing they are looking for and when it needs to be done by. By doing this first you will be able to eliminate any that do not coincide with your writing niche or with your schedule. Now the free writing contest research begins. Finding out if a contest is worthwhile and legitimate is comparable to running a background check on a person. First check the contest website. Do they have all contact information available? Do they tell you what company is hosting the contest? If they are not, you will have likely found warning number one that it is a scam. So scratch those off your list or at least move them to the bottom until you can find out more information on them. Start asking around to colleagues and writers groups. Search the writing forums and the Internet scam sites. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to look. Once you narrowed the free writing contests down to the legitimate ones, read the contest rules and regulations. Some contests require you signing over all rights to a story even if you don?t win. Are you willing to do this? Giving up rights to you writing is a lot easier to do when you are getting something in return. After you enter there is no going back, so make sure this is what you want to do. The final thing you need to look for is if the contest is just a cover up to get you to buy services or products. This does not necessarily mean they are a scam or don?t actually award winners. It simply means that they will try to entice you to use their critiquing services or offer you a book at a reduced fee that your work will be published in. Being published sounds like a great deal but is it a book that carries prestige that people are going to see? Many authors think that writing contests will launch their career into a successful endeavor. This is not the case, especially for free writing contests. Even winning the grand prize of a smaller known contest is not going to affect your literary journey. Even though they may not springboard your career, there are good reasons to join writing contests. You will get unbiased opinions and valuable feedback from the judges. If you make it into the higher rounds, editors could also see your writing. Ultimately whether you enter a free writing contest the choice is yours. Just ask you self if the time spent writing and researching the piece you choose to enter is worth writing for free in most cases. The critique and feedback may be the most worthwhile thing you receive from the contest. But then again the judges opinions are a dime a dozen just like the contests.

The Slam and Other Outlets for your Poetry Needs (poetry reading) Poetry is an effective display of human life and emotion. Not only are the writer?s feelings about life revealed, the reader is also taken on a journey of meaning and feeling. Poetry is an outlet for writers and readers alike. Each new poem that is written is another chapter in the entire human experience. Since people are looking for meaning within their experiences, poetry draws fans by adding that meaning. Poetry reading can be educational and enjoyable. There are many places and forms that poetry reading can take, so if you are looking for an outlet or inlet of your own, you?ll be sure to find one that will fit your needs perfectly. A Poetry Slam A poetry slam is a gathering of poetry lovers. Each person that attends brings one or several pieces of poetry to read. The poems can be individual work or work that you have come across in your poetry reading. The point is to allow everyone to enjoy poetry that they may have never heard before. As each reader places his own interpretation within his reading, everyone can enjoy the variation in style and sound and meaning that comes out of the experience. There are probably a few poetry slams scheduled in your community already. Check the library or the local college campus for more information. If poetry slams are not already being scheduled, or if they are not frequent enough for your taste, you can start your own. All it takes is a meeting place and some flyers. You?ll probably meet all kinds of people that you enjoy being with at a poetry slam. Going to Class Another place to meet other poetry lovers is in class. If there is a college or university campus near you, join a class. Poetry classes are often scheduled in the evening because of their popularity with those who are not regular students. Poetry reading happens in a couple of different kinds of classes. You can take poetry classes that focus on poetry that has been written through history. Sometimes the classes will focus on a specific group of people or time in history. As the subjects change, you can continue to take the classes and continually come across new poetry that you have not read before. You can also take poetry classes that encourage you to write your own poetry. You will then be able to read your work as well as listen to others? work. The great thing about poetry classes is that they are set up for discussion. You can discover more meanings in other people?s writing and develop your own with the help of other qualified students as well as your professor. The Impromptu If you are involved in any other kind of poetry reading, you will probably be well immersed in the different forms of poetry. Understanding a few different writers? perspectives will allow you to involve poetry in your every day life. As you talk to friends and relatives about typical situations that arise, you will be able to bring meaning to many of your conversations through poetry reading. You will probably also develop your own skills of writing and so be able to express yourself effectively when it comes to all kinds of human experiences. Hopefully, at impromptu poetry readings, you?ll be able to inform your friends and relatives as well. Poetry reading opens doors to the heart and the mind. Poetry is a deep expression of emotion and the understanding of life as well as death. Don?t hesitate to broaden your own poetic horizons by experiencing your own poetry and that of others. Try some of the outlets and inlets listed above.