Everyone loves the word free. People will stand in line for hours to receive a free gift from a store, even before they know what the actual gift is. That is why people spend hours looking for free samples online.

I like to get free samples and products as much as the next person, but we all should be aware of some loopholes. For example, most of the freebie sites are actually consumer-survey information portals for manufactures. In addition to the information they need to mail you your sample, they ask you to fill out surveys and questionnaires about your household.

Surveys can be quite lengthy, and in the end all you will receive is a small sample package. If you decide to take the survey, do not provide too much personal information. Give only enough to get your sample. Avoid giving any of these sites your phone number. If they require you to purchase anything, exit the survey immediately.

Look for offers that are survey-free. All they will require from you is your email address or home address to send you a coupon or sample.

I post survey-free sample offers that I find daily under the "Free Stuff" forum on www.thebag.com.

For now happy shopping!

Laurie Dixon, TheBAG Lady