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3 Back-to-School Shopping Pitfalls to Avoid

July 24, 2015
Shopping News
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Back-to-school shopping is all fun and games until you get taken advantage of. Efforts vary in seriousness, but whether it’s a few bucks or your identity at stake, you can protect yourself by following savvy shopping techniques.

1. Bundles

As you browse school supplies, you’ll undoubtedly see bundle offers. These deals sell a handful of office supplies (pencils, pens, paper, scissors and glue, for example) for one price. But don’t spring for a bundle just because it seems simple.

Before you buy, price out the individual products within the bundle. You might save money, or it might be less expensive to buy the items separately — especially if you wait until retailers deepen their back-to-school sales in August.

And keep in mind that buying a bundle could mean that you’ll pay for items that you don’t need or won’t use.

2. Social media scams

Last year, the Better Business Bureau warned back-to-school shoppers about social media scams. Some promised shoppers a gift card for filling out an online survey, but the links led to websites that stole your personal information.

You can bet that similar scams will surface again this year, so be wary when you browse Facebook or Twitter or receive unsolicited emails. Don’t click on anything that sounds too good to be true and don’t submit your information to untrustworthy sources. When in doubt, do a quick online search to determine the validity of a deal.

[For more school shopping tips, check out NerdWallet’s Guide to 2015 Back-to-School Shopping.]

3. Identity theft

Identity theft can happen whenever you pull out your credit card, but it becomes a bigger concern during any major shopping season. Be vigilant and keep your personal information secure during your back-to-school shopping trips.

If you shop online, conduct transactions over only a protected connection — look for the “https” before a store’s Web address — and buy only from retailers you trust. If you shop in store, use your credit card, as it has more protections than your debit card should your financial information fall into the wrong hands.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

Image via iStock.