(WJBK) - Back to school shopping is the second-largest buying season of the year - clocking in at $68 billion that will be spent. With all the school supplies needed these days, families are always looking for the best deals to help their kids get classroom ready -- but beware of deals that seem too good to be true.
Online back-to-school shopping has increased by 15 percent over the last five years. Nearly 40 percent of parents plan to do their shopping online now. Scammers have picked up on this trend, though, and now they're targeting shoppers via social media, text messaging and online advertisements. Clicking or responding to these scams can result in malware being downloaded to your computer or phone, which could ultimately lead to identity theft.
Melanie Duquesnel, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan, shares three types of online back-to-school scams:
1. SMS - Text Messages - They may say you’ve won a free back-to-school shopping spree, or claim to be a brand name company and ask for personal information in order for you to receive a free gift card. Most companies don’t market via SMS, so if you’re curious about the legitimacy of the deal utilize a reliable search resource, such as the local BBB at www.bbb.org/detroit, for the company and the deal it is offering.
2. Social Media - Sidebar advertising on Facebook, deals, offers and giveaways that promise mobile devices, gift cards or department store vouchers. Do not click on a social media ad unless you’ve signed up for deals with that retailer. Pop-up, sidebar or e-mail advertisements that are scams are often poorly constructed, so beware of spelling errors, bad grammar and distorted or unfamiliar company logos and wording.
3. Online Advertisements - Pop-up, sidebar or e-mail advertisements offering often too good to be true promotions. Avoid ads that look too good to be true. Beware of ads or links that offer monetary gift cards for filling out surveys or entering contests.
Find out the physical location and phone number of the merchant. Be familiar with delivery, shipping costs and time schedules. Verify that the process is secured with an https:// or lock symbol in the address bar of your browser.
For warnings, scam alerts and consumer tips visit: http://www.bbb.org/detroit/news-events/.