BBB warns of back-to-school scams
Category: Local News
Written by Keith Leask
Most Alberta students are expected to resume in-person learning in September, and this fact has led the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to alert parents and students about tech purchases made online.
“Many students need to have digital learning tools like laptops,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “This type of request, unfortunately, also creates a context where there may be an increased risk of being scammed.”
O’Sullivan-Anderson adds that due to supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, a shortage of microchips is also being reported. It is in these circumstances that consumers can take more risks and go to online sites that they are unfamiliar with.
BBB offers these tips for consumers who are considering purchasing a technology:
- Buy from familiar retailers. Laptops, tablets, or other tech accessories can be a major investment. Buy with companies you know and trust to make sure you get a quality product and good customer service.
- Don’t buy from impostors. Scammers can use the name, logo, and other features of brands you trust. Examine the website carefully to verify that they are who they claim to be.
- Approach low prices with caution. Low prices and short-term sales can be a sign that you have been scammed. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Some companies rarely offer sales. Do more research if a company that rarely sells products has a huge sale. The products may be used or refurbished, or it may be a fake website.
- Know what you are buying. Set a budget, identify the capabilities that will benefit your student, and compare your options. Next, look for a reliable seller. Finding the best product for your needs will help you avoid scams and buyer’s remorse.
- Make sure you know who the seller is. Some big box retailers allow third-party sellers to list items on their site, and those items may be difficult to distinguish from others. Read all the fine print to make sure you are comfortable with the seller.
- End your shopping early. Supply shortages are possible, especially as large numbers of consumers begin to purchase the same products. Shop now to avoid paying higher prices or being scammed.
Learn more about how to avoid scams when shopping online: BBB Tip: Smart Shopping Online.
Start your school year off on the right foot with BBB’s back-to-school shopping tips.
Report scams at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
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