BBB tips for back to school preparations

THERE are things parents need to consider when breaking out the plastic for their child’s triumphant return to the next grade, says the Better Business Bureau.
“Online shopping scams are one of the riskiest according to BBB’s Risk Index,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “With so many people choosing the online route these days we simply need to do our due diligence and make sure we are shopping on reputable websites. Kids especially love to get the latest and greatest must-haves for school, so we want to make sure you are shopping on safe sites.”

* With online shopping scams in mind, make sure you’ve found legitimate websites. An encrypted website should have the https:// and lock icon in the URL.
* Avoid flashy pop-up ads from social media sites. These may be just click-bait ads that pull you out of a social media sites and request personal information.
* Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.
* Be extremely wary of any website or store 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.
* Google the ‘website name + scam.’ You can do this for pretty much anything you’re buying.
* Never pay with a money transfer.
* Use third-party pay portal such as PayPal and use your 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…stick to a budget.

Something else to consider…
Many parents don’t realise that a child’s Social Insurance Number is valuable to those committing ID theft. No parent wants to discover that their child has a poor credit history due to ID theft and has never even had a bank account.
* Don’t allow them to carry around their social insurance number. Leave it at home and locked in a safe place. In fact, there is no reason you need to carry your own SIN around.
* If a business or school asks for their 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 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. Keep detailed personal information off of social media profiles.