Fresh-sharpened pencils, a new backpack, some scented markers and a snazzy new outfit: it’s the epitome of a new school year. But how much money are you spending on these items? The National Retail Federation estimates that the average amount spent on school supplies per family will be $669.28 this year. Add in any children you’re sending to college, and that number bounces up to $916.48 to include dorm supplies.
For many families, this can be a serious financial burden, not to mention the prevalence of back-to-school scams and tricks that could cost your family even more than necessary. BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties is here with tips to make the transition back into the busy fall routine easy and safe:
Beware of Potential Form Fraud: With back-to-school shopping comes the filling out of forms for supplies, books, enrollment – you name it. While we can sometimes fall into an auto-haze of filling out information, be careful what information you provide to who. Additionally, keep a copy of the forms you turn in that have sensitive information, including your child’s birthday, address, and social security number and if you are throwing a paper away that has this information, make sure to shred it first.
Social Media Scams: While we all love a good deal, be wary of back-to-school coupons and deals you see on Facebook, Twitter, etc. See an ad for a discounted computer? An offer for a $100 gift card if you complete a survey? Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These seemingly unbeatable deals are often just a ploy to collect personal information so be careful before you fill out any online form to receive a deal.
Read the Return Policy – Twice: Just in case you need to return or exchange a purchase you make while back-to-school shopping, BBB has a few tips to make it seamless. We recommend that you keep all original packaging for supply items (cellophane, bubble wrap, boxes and all), bring your identification (many stores will need your ID to reverse the charge on your credit or debit card), keep all of your receipts and return/exchange the item(s) as soon as possible, seeing as many stores have a time frame in which shoppers can bring the items back.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding your back-to-school shopping experience this fall, call your local BBB serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties at 858-496-2131 or visit bbb.org for more information.