CROMWELL, Conn. — Most students are likely to return to schools for in-person learning this fall, and technology has become a permanent fixture of their education experience. After the crash course in educational technology that was the 2020 school year, teachers and students are increasingly confident in using technology for learning. Though its role in the classroom will continue to evolve, a precedent has been set – technology is now a critical component of education.
Market research firm, Deloitte, details how educational shifts are influencing consumer shopping habits, “Digital learning tools are replacing traditional school supplies, driving tech sales up 37% YoY.” As families begin to invest in reliable technology, BBB® advises shoppers to beware of scammers who could spoil their hopes for academic success.
Data shows that consumers are not only planning to make more technology purchases, they’re also using digital technology to make those purchases. Deloitte research indicates that nearly half of consumers want to shop for their technology purchases online. Plus, consumers say the top two factors driving their purchase decisions are quality and price.
However, shortages of essential supplies like computer chips may limit the options available to shoppers. Together, these trends put consumers in a risky position – where they need products, but can’t find them available from trustworthy sellers. In times like these, scams are increasingly likely.
The 2021 back-to-school shopping season has all the conditions necessary to facilitate a spike in online purchase scams. Scammers may target shoppers with phony deals, enticing ads, and attractive but fake websites. With 38% of consumers currently worried about their financial security according to Deloitte’s data, savvy online shopping is a must.
BBB offers these tips for buying tech products ahead of the new school year:
- Shop with familiar retailers. Laptops, tablets, or other tech accessories can be a major investment. Shop with businesses you know and trust to ensure you’re getting a quality product and good customer service.
- Don’t buy from impostors. Fraudsters may use the name, logo, and other characteristics of brands you trust. Closely examine the website to verify that they are who they say they are.
- Approach low prices with caution. Low prices and short-term sales could be a sign you’ve encountered a scam. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Some companies rarely offer sales. Do more research if a company that rarely discounts products is offering a huge sale. The products may be used or refurbished, or it could be a fake website.
- Know what you’re shopping for. Set a budget, identify what capabilities will benefit your student, and compare your options. Then, shop around for a reliable seller. Researching the best product for your needs will help you avoid scams and buyer's remorse.
- Ensure you know who the seller is. Some big-box retailers allow third-party sellers to list items on their site, and those items can be hard to distinguish from the rest. Read all the fine print to ensure you’re comfortable with the seller.
- Start your shopping early. Supply shortages are possible, especially as large numbers of consumers begin shopping for the same products. Do your shopping now to avoid paying higher prices or falling victim to a scam.
Learn more about avoiding scams when shopping online: BBB Tip: Smart Shopping Online.
Report scams at BBB.org/ScamTracker.