BBB gives advice on saving money, avoiding scams during back-to-school shopping

The Better Business Bureau helps students and parents prepare for back to school by providing tips on saving money and avoiding scams.

With the focus on resuming in-person education in Texas, purchasing back-to-school supplies is expected to be significantly different this year than it was in the 2020-2021 school year, said the BBB.

According to the National Retail Federation, 49% of parents of school-aged children said their children were the most excited about shopping for back-to-school clothes this year. Additionally, 61% of consumers plan to purchase their back-to-school supplies during major sales events, including Prime Day, July 4, or Labor Day.

The BBB says that with the majority of purchases made online this year, consumers should exercise caution before making a purchase online.

Between May and July 2020, Texas consumers lost an average of $ 50,000 per month to online shopping scams, according to data from BBB Scam Tracker. Many of those who lost money in online clothing stores found the business through social media advertising.

A Texas consumer reported over $ 500 lost to an online seller who “takes your money when you order their merchandise but never sends anything that was purchased. When I tried to message them to about the missing command he blocked me and told me I could ‘don’t make him do anything.

The BBB offers the following tips for saving money and avoiding scams:

Check around you

Start back-to-school shopping right at home by making a list of everything you need, then taking stock of anything you might have tucked away in desks, drawers, closets or storage spaces . Some supplies may remain from last year, so you don’t have to buy the same item twice.

Look for expensive purchases

Before buying big ticket items like computers, laptops, or a refrigerator for a dorm room, look for the brand, product reviews, warranty, and pricing in several places.

If making a purchase for a college dormitory, consumers should note that universities often have rules regarding the size and location of refrigerators in dormitories. Consumers should check with the college or university housing office whether or not an energy efficient refrigerator is required.

Request student discounts

Stores and software companies often offer discounts for students who have either a student ID or a valid .edu email address. Even if a discount isn’t advertised, it never hurts to ask.

Buy in bulk

If you buy standard items that you need at the start of each school year, such as binders, notebooks, or writing utensils, buying items in bulk is a great way to save money. .

Buy online securely

If you buy school supplies online, verify that the URL begins with “https” and includes a padlock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure and includes additional encryption and security measures compared to an “http” website.

If you’re buying from a lesser-known website, be sure to take the time to read reviews and comments from previous customers. The lowest price is not always the best route. If the company’s contact details aren’t clearly listed, or if it only has an email as a point of contact, it’s a red flag to possibly buy elsewhere.

If the seller asks for payment by wire transfer or gift card, it is a sign that it may not be a legitimate business. Using a credit card is almost always the best option when shopping online because of the extra protections they have to dispute and resolve charges when products purchased are not received.

For more advice on back-to-school shopping, click here.

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