Beware of back-to-school scams online
Don’t look now, but back to school time is basically here. Many stores are already running back-to-school specials, and the Big Texas Duty Free Weekend is August 6-8. The Better Business Bureau of Texas is warning school buyers to beware of online scammers who use genuine sites and advertisements to attract buyers.
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 common tactic crooks are using across the country. 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 him about the missing command, he blocked me and said there was nothing I could do for him to do.
“It is important to use extreme caution when dealing with online sellers, even if the advertisement appears to be for a well-known company,” said Heather Massey, vice president of communications for BBB at Heart Service. from Texas. “Scammers know how to make websites and ads legitimate. They know the buying trends of American consumers and right now the trend is back to school supplies and clothing. If you come across an advertisement on social media, be sure to check with the company’s official website to verify that it is a legitimate offer.
To help back-to-school shoppers this season, Better Business Bureau 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 purchasing expensive items like computers, laptops, or a refrigerator for a dorm, be sure to take the time to research the brand, product reviews, warranty, and price in several places. Universities often have rules regarding the size and location of refrigerators in dormitories. 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 they only have an email as a point of contact, that’s a red flag. You may want to shop elsewhere.
- BBB strongly advises against using unprotected payment options when interacting with online marketplaces. 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 back-to-school shopping tips, visit BBB.org/BackToSchool.