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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Shop locally whenever possible / Note BBB alert to be wary of back-to-school shopping scams


Get to know your local business community and shop locally for school supplies, new clothes and shoes. According to the the news release from the Better Business Bureau, “Fake offers and sites can lead to the school of hard knocks.”

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,” stated Naperville resident Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.  

Bernas continued, “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.

Consider 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 advice aims to help individuals get best deals, 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. (In other words, shop locally. PN suggests before buying new electronic devices, check Experimax in Naperville for tech-product upgrades and repairs.) 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. 

Look for the BBB Seal

Check BBB.org for business reviews and ratings, and look for the BBB Seal, The Sign of a Better Business. Sign up for BBB Edge, the BBB’s free consumer newsletter, at BBB.org/ChicagoBuzz.

Better Business Bureau seeks notices of all types of scammers

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB Scamtracker to help alert others. Your report can help protect other consumers by exposing scammers’ tactics. For more info, visit BBB.org.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.