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Back-to-school shopping scams: Watch out for ads on social media and prices too good to be true


VANCOUVER —
As families get ready for the new school year, the B.C. Better Business Bureau is warning of a likely rise in online shopping scams.

Since the start of 2021, the agency has received nearly 400 complaints from people who were duped while shopping online, and with many students soon embarking on new purchases for gadgets and learning devices, the BBB is raising the alarm.

“With many consumers likely to start browsing and shopping online for school supplies in the next few weeks, there is concern that these reports could increase, along with the dollar amounts lost to scammers,” reads a statement from the bureau.

Karla Laird of the B.C. Better Business Bureau says that if you’re buying tech gadgets that you need for school, and spending hundreds of dollars on the devices, it’s important that you know the company that you’re purchasing it from.

“(If) you stumble into a scammer you could end up losing all of that money that you were hoping to use to get a new device, and end up with nothing,” she said.

Market research shows that students and families rely on technology more since before the pandemic, and they are planning on making more technology purchases for back to school, with nearly half wanting to shop for the products online, according to the BBB. The top two factors driving their decisions are quality and price.

“(If) you’re just browsing and you’re stumbling into ads that are coming up while you’re browsing online, and especially ads that are popping up as you scroll through your feed and on social media, we encourage you to be extremely careful on those,” Laird said.

“Scammers have set up elaborate websites that look attractive but are really just fake or impersonating legitimate platforms, with the hopes of just getting your personal information and your money,” she said.

Above all else, Laird says to watch for prices that are too good to be true.

“If you know this is a very popular, expensive device, and it’s being sold for something way below market price, that for us is a red flag.”

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