Navigating the Back-to-School Shopping Scams: Here’s How to Be Safe

Navigating the Back-to-School Shopping Scams: Here’s How to Be Safe
Image Source: Pexels | Oleksandr Canary Islands

As the start of the school year approaches, parents are gearing up for back-to-school shopping, making it a prime time for scammers to prey on families seeking the best deals. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently issued a warning, advising parents to stay vigilant and exercise caution while shopping for school supplies.

With the National Retail Federation estimating record-breaking spending this year, scammers are capitalizing on the opportunity to target unsuspecting parents, per CNBC.

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Here's how to protect yourself from scams and ensure a secure back-to-school shopping experience. 

Image Source: CDC/Pexels
Image Source: CDC/Pexels

Back-to-school shopping is expected to reach record levels this year, with the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimating an average spend of $890 per family with children in elementary through high school levels. For families with college-age students, the estimated spending is even higher at $1,367.

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Unfortunately, Illinois is not offering reduced sales tax on school-related items this year, which has given scammers an opportunity to take advantage of parents seeking deals, per Illinois News.

Beyond merely taking money, scammers have evolved their methods to include pop-up ads, emails and text messages, aiming to deceive parents and gather valuable personal information. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that these scammers capitalize on families' desires to find the best deals by offering seemingly irresistible low prices and using various channels to contact potential victims. To protect themselves from falling victim to scams and fraudulent schemes, the BBB provides crucial advice for parents during the back-to-school shopping season.

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Before making any back-to-school purchases, take the time to research products, verify their compatibility with school requirements and compare prices across various stores. Stick to reputable and familiar businesses to ensure quality products and reliable customer service. Be cautious of unfamiliar online sellers, especially if their prices are significantly lower than others as they may be fraudulent.



 

With the rise of online shopping, it is crucial to be cautious and protect sensitive information:

Secure websites: Only make online purchases from secure websites with "HTTPS" in the URL and a padlock icon near the address bar. Avoid entering personal information on unsecured sites.

Beware of clickbait: Do not fall for enticing "clickbait" ads, especially those offering massive discounts. These may lead to phishing websites seeking to gather personal data.

Strong passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Oleksandr Canary Islands
Image Source: Oleksandr Canary Islands/Pexels 

Involve your children in the back-to-school shopping process as they may be aware of student discounts offered by certain retailers. However, ensure that the discounts are legitimate before proceeding with the purchase. Encourage your children to be cautious online and avoid sharing personal information or clicking on suspicious links.

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Image Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels 

To protect themselves and others from scams, parents should:

Stay informed: Familiarize themselves with common back-to-school scams such as counterfeit merchandise, fake fundraisers and misleading advertisements.

Report scams: If you encounter a potential scam, report it immediately to the BBB and local authorities. Reporting scams helps raise awareness and prevents others from falling victim.

Identity theft is a common concern during back-to-school shopping. Parents should safeguard their personal information by using strong, unique passwords for online accounts and refrain from sharing sensitive data over insecure channels. Be wary of unsolicited emails or calls asking for personal information as scammers may pose as educational institutions or companies offering exclusive deals.



 

Remember, being proactive is the key to outsmarting scammers and making the most of this exciting time for students and parents alike.

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