Back-to-school season can be stressful for many kids and their parents — especially when scammers are back to work with online school shopping scams. But there are ways to get your school shopping done while avoiding scams that cost you valuable time and money.
Once you’ve got the list of teacher-approved school supplies and taken an inventory of what’s left from last year, you’re ready to shop. Many people like the convenience of online school shopping, but what happens if something goes wrong with your order or the website turns out to be a scam? Before you drop items in your shopping cart, remember this advice from the Federal Trade Commission:
- Check refund and return policies, especially on sale or clearance items. Sellers often have different (and stricter) refund and return policies for sale items and dishonest sellers will use tricky disclosures and fine print to deny refund requests.
- Use a credit card for online purchases, if possible. Credit cards offer the most protection against fraud, including the right to dispute charges if there are problems with your purchase.
- Always save your receipts or confirmation emails. If something goes wrong, these will help you get your money back from the seller or file a dispute with your credit card company.
- You don’t have to accept shipping delays. If you bought something online and never got it, notify the seller as soon as possible. If the seller hasn’t shipped the item within the timeframe they promised when you bought it, the law says you can cancel the order for a full refund.
- Look for pre-checked boxes. It’s illegal, but some businesses use these hoping you won’t notice that you’re agreeing to be billed later. Uncheck the box if you don’t agree with what it says. If you want to change or cancel a subscription or automatic charges, sellers must give you an easy way to cancel.
Visit the FTC’s Online Shopping section for more ways to save on back-to-school shopping and avoid scams.