Back-to-School Scams

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The dog days of summer are about over and it’s time for the school bells to ring!  In my day, that meant new plaid skirts and jumpers, loafers and shiny lunch boxes with the latest cartoon character on them.  Not so much now!  Younger folks probably think I used a quill pen and inkwell.

Students today will be shopping for backpacks, laptops and the hottest sneakers.

Back-to-School shopping is a huge season for the retail market.  Much of the shopping is now done online or on mobile devices.  Most high school and college age students will be using their phones to shop for items.

It’s important to be aware that back-to-school scams really target smartphone and social media users.  We just had a recent incident here at the BBB, where a local company selling athletic shoes started being contacted by customers that had placed their order and paid online, but never received the product.

Why?  Because the local company had never received the requested order or payment.  A scammer in another country had built a website using the local business’s contact information including phone numbers, etc.  They even have the BBB logo on their website.  The scammers took the payment and never delivered and the unsuspecting customer had no recourse.

So it’s always best to make sure you know who you are dealing with.  If you are looking at a new company or website, make sure they have all of the pertinent information regarding security and privacy policies and what will happen to your information once provided to them.

It may well be worth an old-fashioned phone call to the company to ask about the item you are looking at.  If they are hesitant (or in the case of the aforementioned story, don’t know what you are talking about), do not send payment.

Even more prudent would be to shop locally.  Actually walk into a store and make your purchases whenever possible.

In all cases, it’s best to check out the company with the BBB prior to doing business with them.  Also find out what the return policies are before making the purchase.  Find out if there is a restocking fee if the item you receive is not what you need.

We hope that everyone has a safe and productive school year and remember to check out any business at www.bbb.org or call us at 812-473-0202. 

This article was written for and appeared in the Evansville Courier & Press, Business Section, August 21, 2016.

About Cathy 26 Articles
Cathy is the President and CEO of the Tri-State Better Business Bureau.

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