Retailers across the area are gearing up for the nation's second largest shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend $83.6 billion on back to school spending in 2017, a 10% increase from last year. With more and more people using mobile devices to shop, it’s easier than ever to knock those school supplies off the list.
But the Better Business Bureau warns, where there’s money being spent, there’s an opportunity for scammers to get to your personal and financial information.
"Scams that target mobile users are on the rise, often found on social media in the form of phony coupons, gift cards and paid surveys. These links will take you to websites that ask for your personal information, bank card numbers and sometimes download malware onto your devices," said BBB's Dale Dixon.
Dixon says unsolicited text and email links are also a popular way for scammers to lead you to an unsafe site where your device is susceptible to malware. And, deals that promise low or no cost downloads for textbooks and other media your student might need are another way to lure to an unsafe site.
"While almost everyone gets coupons and sales notifications sent to their email, it’s important to remember that scammers can easily duplicate a legitimate company’s branding. Double check the sender and opt to visit a retailer’s page directly instead of using links in emails," Dixon said.
BBB says keep in mind, businesses don’t typically give away merchandise or gift cards for nothing more than a quick survey. Check known websites for possible giveaways and scroll past the phony offers on social media.
Research sale prices. Discounts that seem too good to be true probably are. Online shopping should be done only with verified businesses that have encrypted sites (look for the https).
When shopping with verified retailers, be sure to review the return policy carefully. Sale items may not be refundable and higher ticket items, like laptops and other electronics, may require a restock fee.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.