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An increasing number of gimmicks are popping up among computer sales companies. One popular one advertises that you can get a free computer! It sounds like a great deal. But like the age-old adage contends, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some examples of what some of these offers really offer, and what you can do to get your best deal.

• One common "Free Computer" offer suggests that if you buy three years of Internet service with their company, they'll give you a refurbished computer. Keep in mind that their Internet service may cost $20 or more each month. After three years, you've paid $720, which is quite a bit more than a refurbished computer likely would have cost.
• Another offer states that if you buy a computer, the peripherals, and some software at their original price, you'll actually get it for free. But that's only after the rebates from the companies you're buying these items from. You must pay the original price up front and you'll get the money back.
• A third offer only gives you the chance at getting a free computer. You can register with a marketing company on the Internet or through the mail, they'll put your name in a drawing for a free computer. What you have to do for them is have an "advertising bar" on your screen at all times. You'll always see ads flashing on your computer screen, but you'll be entered into that drawing, as they promised.
• Always know what you're agreeing to, when it comes to free computer ads.
• Make sure any free computer offer includes you getting the corresponding mouse, monitor, and keyboard.
• Ask what the requirements are for you to participate. Make sure you understand it thoroughly.
• Find out if the computer you'd be getting is new or refurbished.
• Find out what kind of customer service the company offers. Is there a limit to the technical support you can receive?