Scams to watch for while back-to-school shopping

BBB warns of pyramid scheme that promises easy money via 'Blessing Loom'
Posted at 9:25 AM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 14:33:35-04

BOISE, Idaho — The Federal Trade Commission reports that Americans have already lost more than $77 million due to fraud during COVID-19. One of the top categories for fraud is online shopping--something the Better Business Bureau reports people should keep in mind while shopping for school supplies.

Whether it will be in the classroom or online, parents are trying to set their kids up for success. According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending is expected to reach a new record this year, with parents predicted to spend $789 on back to school shopping. Unfortunately, with supplies low and demand high amid COVID-19, people are shopping with online retailers they have never shopped with before, which leads to monetary losses.

Rebecca Barr with the Better Business Bureau says people really need to be wary of clickbait ads that feature items that you may want or need based on your search history. These clickbait ads exist on social media and pop-ups on websites, hoping to drive you to different websites to potentially steal your personal information.

BBB Scam Tracker has shown this can be a risky way to shop, with Idahoans reporting losing thousands of dollars when attempting to buy everything from name brand clothing to educational supplies and online tutors. This is particularly troublesome because if students continue to be home-schooled, parents are increasingly looking for big-ticket items like computers.

So what should you keep in mind while shopping? Before clicking “check out” make sure you are doing your research. First, beware of phishing. Phishing emails and websites can look they are a well-known brand but clicking on unfamiliar links, filling out account information or entering payment information can put you at risk.

Next, shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it's easier to dispute charges that you didn't approve of.

Read the fine print. If you’re interested in signing up to purchase big-ticket items in installments, be sure you understand exactly how the service works. Find out what company is financing your purchase, how long you have to pay off the purchase and in how many installments, how they handle late payments, and how much interest you’ll be charged, if any.

For more tips from the Better Business Bureau, click here.