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Avoiding Back to School Shopping Scams

Although northern Nevada schools have been back in session for nearly three weeks, back to school shopping is still in full swing with notebooks, pencil cases, glue, binders, and folders lining the shelves in many store aisles.

This year, I approached my back to school shopping a little differently. Due to the early start, I decided that rather than spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies and new clothes in one fell swoop, I was only going to purchase necessary school supplies. After all, with the 100 degree temps that northern Nevada was experiencing, I had already planned for my biggest little man to start second grade wearing his (broken-in and somewhat worn) summer clothes. That said, it won’t be long before I have to stock up on new jeans, khakis, and button-down shirts.

According to Internet Retailer, nearly 50 percent of parents with smartphones are using their devices to find coupons and discounts for back to school shopping, and 20 percent are taking it a step further and actually using their smartphone to make the purchase. I found these statistics interesting, not only because I’m an online shopper myself, but also because I’m aware of online scams and how easily one can fall victim to a scam if not educated.

Before you venture out virtually for your back to school needs, check out some of the most common scams and protect yourself from potential security threats.

Social Media Scams

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook sidebar is filled with advertising deals, offers, and giveaways that are seemingly too good to be true. In my experience, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. The ability to obtain a $1,000 gift card to a retail store (that Facebook somehow knows I love) for a fraction of the price is not realistic. Ridiculous offers such as these are designed to lure you away from your newsfeed via an advertisement, which leads you to a site that automatically downloads malware onto your device.

 Rule of thumb: If it’s good too to be true, it is. Do not click on that link!

Pop-Up Advertisements

Unless disabled on your device, we all get pop-up advertisements when perusing the net. Historically, it’s been relatively easy to detect which ones are scams, but lately, those scammers seem to be upping their game. Sophisticated scam ads are becoming harder and harder to spot because they use trusted-brand logos that seem legit, even with a second glance.

Rule of thumb: Make sure an ad is authentic by doing a Google or Bing search to double check it. Check out the sale via the retailer’s actual site, versus by clicking through a bogus advertisement.

 Text Messages

Recently, Walmart posted a prominent warning about a “smishing” (SMS phishing) scam on its website. The scam, which comes in the form of a text message, refers consumers to a site where they can “claim a Walmart gift card” by entering certain private, personal information like their name, address, or phone number. This can happen with any retailer, so be on the lookout for similar texts from Target, Kohl’s, and other popular back to school retail and department stores.

Rule of thumb: Don’t be fooled by false “claims,” and never enter your personal information on a site in which you aren’t familiar or haven’t verified.

Do you recognize any of these scams? Have I missed any? Tell us about them or just tell us what you think. Happy shopping!

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About Jennifer Woodbury Duval

Jennifer Woodbury Duval
A right coaster now living on the left, Jennifer Duval is a mom to two rambunctious boys, and works full-time in the communications department at a Fortune 500 company. Fueled by logic, she is a no-nonsense type of gal who doesn’t buy into the latest trends, but does like to try new, trendy restaurants. An avid reader, she also loves coffee, chocolate, Zumba, and discovering new places.

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