Beware of back-to-school shopping scams, officials warn

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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(CNN) - Back-to-shopping has always been a bit of a nightmare and this year, experts warn it may be even worse.

With more classrooms reopening in-person learning this fall, demand for school merchandise is high, leading to possible shortages and raising concern over online shopping scams.

“What parents are challenged with at this point in time is juggling the transition from the at-home learning to the in-person learning,” Sandra Guile with the Better Business Bureaus said.

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are expected to spend an average of $850 per family.

With items like sneakers, backpacks and gadgets expected to be in tight supply earlier than normal, parents are bracing for shortages.

“This is where the scammers are finding the opportunity. How can I make the most money off of this situation where people are at a disadvantage?,” Guile said.

That desperation is triggering the BBB to issue a warning about online shopping scams.

It is urging consumers to verify third-party vendors found through ads on social media.

”If you see those pop-up ads, use some hesitation and caution with those and double-check the name of the business to make sure they’re legitimate,” Guile said.

The BBB recommends using a credit card when buying online because you will have additional protections to dispute and resolve charges if you don’t receive the items you purchased.

Meanwhile, the BBB says you can still save money on the items on your list by following these five tips.

  1. Make a list and create a budget for those items.
  2. Research prices and compare them with other retailers.
  3. Buy in bulk and share costs with other parents.
  4. Consider buying items at a consignment store.
  5. Check around the house. There might be some extra office supplies you did not realize you had.

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