Government impostor scams

Back to school season has arrived, but it looks a little different this year. School districts across Texas are trying to figure out how to best serve and protect their students and teachers. Some are starting with virtual learning, while some want to keep classes online through the end of the year. 

The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates back-to-school season 2020 will set a new record for back-to-school shopping, as many parents may need to purchase laptops for their children to attend school virtually. Spending across the country is expected to be $33.9 billion dollars, breaking the $30.3 billion record set in 2012. The NRF projects an average of nearly $800 to be spent by parents with elementary- through high school-aged students.

Planning can be difficult in the midst of so much uncertainty. Navigate this difficult situation by using these tips from your BBB:

• Research big ticket items. Check with your child’s school to see what technology is needed for virtual learning, and if you need to invest in high-speed internet for your home. When buying items like laptops, research the best brands for your student’s needs. Shop around for the best deals and prices and visit BBB.org to view business profiles before purchasing from a retailer.

• Shop smart. Price comparing can help you stick to your budget. Sign up for email lists from trusted retailers to receive alerts on sales and coupons and ask about student discounts on certain items. You may also consider planning your shopping around tax-free weekend. Tax-free weekend will apply to online purchases, which will make social distancing easier during back-to-school season. For more information on tax-free weekend, you can visit comptroller.texas.gov.

• Buy in bulk. If your school returns to in-person classes, you may be asked to help provide classroom supplies like tissues or disinfecting wipes. While these are typically asked of parents during the school year, they will be especially important, and hard to find, this year. If possible, buying in bulk can help you provide plenty of classroom supplies and save you money.

• Practice online safety. Online shopping will be a popular option for buying school supplies this year. When making purchases, be sure you’re shopping with a trusted retailer and the website has a lock icon next to the URL. Only give your credit card information to a secure site. Consider teaching your children about online safety, such as recognizing tech support scams and phishing scams.

Wading through unfamiliar territory can be daunting, but your Better Business Bureau is here to help make back-to-school season a bit easier during these trying times.

For more tips, visit us at BBB.org.