Do your homework to avoid back to school scams

Do your homework to avoid back to school scams

And warn your child about the dangers of identity theft.

The cold, hard reality is that the new school year is nearly upon us. This past year saw Online Purchase Scams reach the top spot on BBB’s Top 10 Scams list, and without a doubt many parents will be looking for back to school deals on the Internet.

“Online shopping scams are now one of the riskiest scams, according to BBB’s Risk Index,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “The problem is there are many different kinds of scams online, and even honest businesses can get caught with things like counterfeit goods moving through their own supply chains.”

BBB has some back to school shopping tips:

* Make sure you’ve found legitimate websites. Don’t just rely on a simple Google Search. Scammers are good at search engine optimization, the BBB has seen fraudulent websites show up above the real ones on the search page. This can be very misleading.

* Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price, but the lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.

* An encrypted website should have the https:// and lock icon in the URL.

* Avoid flashy pop-up ads from social media sites. These may just be click-bait ads that pull you out of a social media site and request personal information.

* Be extremely wary of any website that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.

* Read the fine print. Understand return policies, particularly on sale items.

* Never pay with a money transfer. Always use a credit card.

* Order back to school things early so your kids have the things they want when school starts.

* Read user reviews of Amazon sellers.

* Check your credit card statements often.

* Life is expensive, so stick to a budget.

Children and ID Theft:

Many parents don’t realize that a child’s social insurance number is valuable to those committing ID theft.

The last thing any parent wants is to discover that their child has a poor credit history due to ID theft, even though she or he has never even had a bank account.

* Don’t allow children to carry around their social insurance number. Leave it at home and locked in a safe place.

In fact, there is no reason for you to carry your own SIN around.

* If a business or school asks for your child’s SIN, ask questions.

Why do they need it, and where and how is this information being stored? How long is it being stored and how will it be terminated? Who has access to it?

* Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are a great way to ensure you have money for your child’s post-secondary education.

However, opening an account with a SIN can leave a child vulnerable to ID theft should the system be hacked. Only deal with reputable companies that offer RESPs in their portfolio.

* Educate your child on being safe if they are active in the online world. Monitor their activity, and make sure they keep detailed personal information off social media profiles.

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