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Save money and avoid scammers this back-to-school season

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BBB: Tips for a Fraud Free 2021
Posted at 9:27 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 10:11:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Students and parents are gearing up for back-to-school season as the summer break comes to a close. With the emphasis on in-person instruction resuming in Texas, shopping for back-to-school supplies is expected to be different this year than before.

According to the National Retail Federation, almost half (49%) of parents with school-aged children said their kids are most excited about shopping for back-to-school clothing this year. Additionally, 61% of consumers plan to purchase their back-to-school supplies around major sale events including Prime Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day.

With the majority of consumers turning to online marketplaces for their shopping needs this year, it is important to exercise caution before making an online purchase.

Katie Galan with the Better Business Bureau says between May and July of last year, Texas consumers lost an average of $50,000 per month to online purchasing scams. Many of those who lost money to online clothing stores found the business through an advertisement on social media, a common tactic that scammers use across the nation.

To assist back-to-school shoppers this season, Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to save money and avoid scams:

Check around your home

Start back-to-school shopping at home by making a list of everything that you need and then taking stock of everything that you may have stored in desks, drawers, closets or storage areas. Some supplies may still be left over from last year, saving you from purchasing the same item twice.

Research expensive purchases

Before purchasing expensive items such as computers, laptops, or a refrigerator for a dorm, be sure to spend some time to research the brand, reviews of the product, warranty and prices at multiple locations. Universities often have rules regarding the size and placement of refrigerators in dorms. Check with the housing office at the college or university on whether an energy-efficient refrigerator is required or not.

Ask for student discounts

Stores and software companies often offer discounts to students that have either a student ID or valid .edu email address. Even if a discount is not advertised, it never hurts to ask.

Shop in bulk

If purchasing standard items that are needed at the beginning of each school year, such as binders, notebooks or writing utensils, purchasing items in bulk is a great way to save money.

Shop safely online

  • If purchasing school supplies online, verify that the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure and includes additional encryption and security measures than a “http” website.
  • If purchasing from a lesser-known website, make sure to take the time to read reviews and feedback from previous customers. The lowest price may not always be the best route. If the company’s contact information is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, that is a red flag. You may want to shop elsewhere.
  • The BBB strongly recommends against using unprotected payment options when interacting with online marketplaces. If the seller asks for payment via wire transfer or a gift card, that is a sign it may not be a legitimate business. Using a credit card is almost always the best option when purchasing online due to the additional protections they have to dispute and resolve charges when purchased products are not received.

For more tips for back-to-school shopping, visit BBB.org/BackToSchool.