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BBB offers tips and warnings while shopping for school items

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:30 AM CDT
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(WSAW/BBB) - Back-to-school season is here. While many people may have gotten all their shopping done, some still have a few things to check off their lists. So while you shop, the Better Business Bureau wants to you keep some things in mind when looking for school-related items, either in person or online.

Research big ticket items

Check with your child’s school to find out their technology requirements and determine if there are any changes necessary to the home’s high-speed internet. According to National Retail Federation, 63% of consumers expect at least some school and college classes will take place online this year, up from 55% when the original survey was conducted in July 2020.

Before purchasing an expensive laptop, tablet or other computer accessories, research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to make certain the best deal can be had. Also, look up the retailer’s reputation on BBB.org.

Shop smart

Compare prices between different retail stores, save coupons, sign up for email alerts, and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help get the best deals and stay within budget.

Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some of them are available to students that have either a .edu email address or a student ID. Others may have a discount for signing up for marketing materials or surf the internet for online coupons and discounts (make certain they are affiliated with the retailer). Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Consider buying in bulk

If meeting in person, some teachers may ask parents to buy bulk items (paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer) for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Compare lists with other parents and see if costs can be shared.

Shop wisely, safely online

When shopping online, be wary of “click bait” ads that feature items that imply that you may want or need it based on the search history. Scammers could be trying to drive you to a different website to potentially steal personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website by directly typing into the search bar. Make note of the website’s privacy policy, contact information, and always use a credit card when making a purchase.

Beware of financial aid scams

If you are considering a private student loan, it’s important to know whom you’re doing business with and the terms of the loan. The FTC and ED offer these tips to help you recognize deceptive private student loan practices.

  • Some private lenders and their marketers use names, seals, logos, or other representations similar to those of government agencies to create the false or misleading impression that they are part of or affiliated with the federal government and its student loan programs. ED does not send advertisements or mailers or solicit consumers to borrow money. If you receive a student loan solicitation, it is not from ED.
  • Don’t let promotions or incentives like gift cards, credit cards, and sweepstake prizes divert you from assessing whether the key terms of the loan are reasonable.
  • Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know with home you are dealing. Private student lenders typically ask for your student account number - often your Social Security number (SSN) or Personal Identification Number (PIN) - saying they need it to help determine your eligibility. However, because scam artists who purport to be private student lenders can misuse this information, it is critical to provide it or other personal information only if you have confidence in the private student lender with whom you are dealing.

For more information about how to avoid scholarship and financial aid scams, visit FTC.gov.

For a list of financial aid service companies the U.S. Department of Education works with, visit StudentAid.gov.

If you have been a victim of any scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided could prevent another person from falling victim.

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