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'Phony deals': Here's how to not get scammed with back-to-school shopping

BBB offers a few valuable tips
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Parents have enough worries about the return to school in September amid COVID-19 without having to fear getting scammed while looking for good deals.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it has received almost 400 reports about online purchase scams.

Market research firm, Deloitte, found that consumers are not only planning to make more technology purchases, they are also using digital technology to make those purchases. Additionally, nearly half of consumers want to shop for their technology purchases online, and the top two factors driving their purchase decisions are quality and price. 

"The 2021 back-to-school shopping season has all the conditions necessary to facilitate a spike in online purchase scams," said Karla Laird, senior manager for media and communications at BBB Serving Mainland BC. "Scammers may target shoppers with phony deals, enticing ads online and on social media, as well as with attractive but fake websites. Naturally, because tech supplies are usually more expensive, it could also lead to victims losing more to fraudsters."

With this in mind, BBB offers these tips for buying tech products ahead of the new school year:

  • Shop with familiar retailers. Laptops, tablets or other tech accessories can be a major investment. Shop with businesses you know and trust to ensure you are 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 have encountered a scam. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
  • Some companies rarely offer sales. Do more research if a company that rarely discounts products is offering a huge sale. The products may be used or refurbished, or it could be a fake website.
  • Know what you’re shopping for. Set a budget, identify what capabilities will benefit your student and compare your options. Then, shop around for a reliable seller. Researching the best product for your needs will help you avoid scams and buyer's remorse.
  • Ensure you know who the seller is. Some big box retailers allow third party sellers to list items on their site, and those items can be hard to distinguish from the rest. Read all the fine print to ensure you are comfortable with the seller. 
  • Finish your shopping early. Supply shortages are possible, especially as large numbers of consumers begin shopping for the same products. Do your shopping now to avoid paying higher prices or falling victim to a scam.