Cash back email is NOT a ripoff but raises privacy concerns

I got a surprising email in my Inbox that promised me money. I was convinced it was too good to be true, but I was wrong!

I am familiar with the cash back programs like Ebates that reward you with a check for shopping online. You just have to link to the online retailer through your Ebates account, and you earn back a portion of the sale.

Ebates is a great program that’s saved me money. However, I wasn’t familiar with Bing cashback. Yet, the email said I was entitled to just over $8. I had no idea what it was, so how would they know what I bought? I was ready to write a warning to anyone else receiving this email that promised a check. Upon checking it out, I realized it was a legitimate program.

Bing cashback worked until July 30, 2010. According to Bing, the company provided cash back when you searched for a product and saw the golden $ sign next to it or when you clicked on a sponsored link with the $ sign. I don’t remember the $ sign, but apparently I clicked on it once and Bing kept a record of that shoe order in 2009 and is offering to pay me for that purchase in 2011. Kudos to the company for reminding me that the offer I didn’t know about is about to expire.

Consumers have until July 30, 2011 to redeem their cash back. I don’t remember signing into any accounts, and obviously didn’t provide Bing much information because I didn’t have an online account with them and they didn’t know my address to send me the check. Bing simply knew my email address.

The orders were likely tracked through the use of cookies. They are the little crumbs you leave behind when you surf online. While having no privacy netted me money this time, it’s another reminder to erase your digital footprint by browsing privately. It’s easy to do by checking the tools, options, or safety feature on your browser. It varies based on the browser you use. It’s your best bet until Congress gives the FTC power to create a do not track list similar to the do not call list.

If you got this email, I hope you didn’t delete it. Cash in before July 31st.

Related links you may like:
Earn cash back when you shop online
Cash for your electronics
Money saving sites
Steps to reduce your digital footprint