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 vastly different this year than it was during the 2020-’21 school year.
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.
Between May-July 2020, Texas consumers lost an average of $50,000 per month to online purchasing scams, according to BBB Scam Tracker data. 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. One Texas consumer reported more than $500 lost to an online seller who “takes your money when you order his merchandise but never sends anything that was purchased. When I tried to message him about the missing order, he blocked me and told me I couldn’t make him do anything.”
“It is important to exercise 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 serving the Heart of Texas. “Scammers know how to make websites and advertisements look legitimate. They know the shopping trends of American consumers and, right now, the trend is for back-to-school supplies and clothing. If you encounter an advertisement on social media, be sure to check with the official website of the company to verify it is a legitimate offer.”
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 right 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 leftover 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 a 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
For more tips for back-to-school shopping, visit BBB.org/BackToSchool.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided may prevent another person from falling victim.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico.