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BBB Alert: Back-to-School Shopping Scams

BBB Alert: Watch out for Back-to-School Shopping Scams

Fake Offers and Sites Can Lead to the School of Hard Knocks

Rockford, IL – August 2, 2022 – The Better Business Bureau says parents should especially be on the lookout for back-to-school scams this year because of inflation and product shortages.

Heading into the new school year requires diligence to equip your children with the clothing, supplies, and products. “Scammers love back-to-school, as that means more opportunity to connive busy parents out of well-earned money,” says Dennis Horton director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.

Horton adds, “Parents are certainly going to turn to online shopping, and con artists will come up with new angles to take advantage of the mad rush for high-demand products. Scammers will target shoppers with phony deals, enticing ads, and attractive, but fake, websites.”

For the new school year, the National Retail Federation says shoppers are expected to spend an average of $864 per family. Spending for families with college-age students is pegged at $1,199. Sneakers, backpacks, and technology equipment are among the items where shortages will be seen.

The good news is that starting August 5, 2022, through the close of business on August 14, the State of Illinois will offer shoppers reduced sales tax on qualifying school-related items, supplies, clothing, and footwear.

BBB offers advice to help people get the best deals and stay within budget.

  • Research big ticket items: Whether your children are learning in-person at school or online from home, technology has come to the forefront over the past two years. When buying new equipment, check with your child's school to learn about any technical requirements.
  • Before purchasing an expensive laptop, tablet, or other computer accessories, research the brands, warranty, customer reviews, and prices of various stores for the best deal. Be sure to look up the retailer's reputation on BBB.org.
  • Finish your shopping early. Supply shortages are possible, especially as many consumers begin shopping for the same products. Shop now to avoid paying higher prices or falling victim to a scam.
  • Shop with familiar retailers. Laptops, tablets, or other tech accessories can be a significant investment. Shop with businesses you know and trust to ensure you’re getting a quality product and good customer service.
  • Don’t buy from impostors. Fraudsters may use the name, logo, and other characteristics of brands you trust. Closely examine the website to verify that they are who they say they are.
  • Approach low prices with caution. Low prices and short-term sales could be a sign you’ve encountered a scam. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • When shopping online, be wary of "click bait" ads that feature items that imply that you may want or need them based on your search history. Scammers could be trying to drive you to a different website to potentially steal personal information.
  • Ask for a discount. Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some are available to students with either a ".edu" email address or a student ID.
  • Deal with secure websites. These will begin with “HTTPS” and have a “lock” symbol on the address bar.

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About BBB:
BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served both consumers and trustworthy businesses for 96 years and is a part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews to find businesses they can trust. We connect customers to businesses they can trust. BBB is the sign of a better business.

The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the network hub for BBBs in the US, Canada and Mexico. Like BBBs, IABBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers -- instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all. Please visit BBB.org for more information

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