Health & Fitness

Aging Matters: Think twice before clicking on ‘free’ offers

What’s that they say when the offer sounds too good to be true? Oh, yes – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I’m right up there with the bargain-hunter elites. Dangle a half-price tag in front of me, and you’re well on the way to a sale. If it’s the right color, doesn’t have to be ironed, and there’s no charge for shipping, it’s practically hanging in my closet.

But I seldom bite on a something-for-nothing offer. I may be the cents-off queen, but I wasn’t born yesterday. Nobody just gives stuff away.

Knowing that, why did I buy into a “free gift card” offer from my favorite steak place when it popped up on my laptop screen? “Just click on the box, answer a few questions, and print out the card.” My mouth watered, my mouse clicked and my fate was sealed.

When Pandora opened that box, all the evils inside made their escape, infesting the world forever, never to be stopped. Just call me Pandora!

Although I never printed my card, I now have no way to stem the daily flow of “offers” and “bargains” cluttering my inbox. The law is on their side. Since I initiated the connection, it isn’t recognized as spam (unsolicited solicitations). Immediately, the e-marketing world smacked its lips and shared my data with all its buddies. I get offers from tech classes and schools, merchants and services, lonely hearts and travel ops. In theory, clicking “unsubscribe” would take me off the list. In practice, few honor that request. I’m stuck. Moral of the story: Free ain’t free.

The Internet is a wonderful, useful tool for us good guys, but it’s just as useful for baddies. Generous offers to share an inheritance from a deposed third-world prince are easy to delete; it’s harder to pass up unclaimed money. They all require sensitive ID and financial data, bank account, credit card, etc. Never, ever divulge any such assigned numbers when you didn’t make the call. Or when you greedily ask for their free stuff.

But here’s some good, free advice: Just pay for that steak.