How to avoid back-to-school scams that put your money and identity at risk

WASHINGTON D.C. — Kids are heading back to school soon -- As you ready your family to return to the classroom, the Better Business Bureau is putting out a safety message.


This back-to-school season, the BBB is warning parents there are several ways you can put your money, your children and their personal information at risk.

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BBB Spokesperson Melanie McGovern explained the scams start even before the school year does, when you’re shopping for supplies.

“You can’t find it anywhere and then all of the sudden a website pops up or an ad pops up on social saying ‘hey we have this item,’” McGovern described. “That’s always a red flag, especially if stuff is sold out. How does this one website have the one thing that everybody is looking for?”

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The first day of school brings some more risk.

We’ve all seen those adorable photos of your kids in their best outfits holding up a sign with a lot of details. It has their full name, school and teacher’s names, age, even their favorite activities and goals. You might even take the picture in front of your home with your address for anyone to see.

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“There could be clues to identity theft in those posts,” McGovern warned. “If your friends have dormant accounts, they could be hacked. They could be stolen.”

There are also warnings for your kids throughout the school year.

“This is a generation of kids who grew up with the Internet,” McGovern said. “They don’t think twice about it.”

Read: Tips on keeping your child safe while at school

The BBB has seen what they call “homework helper cons”. This is where students might go online for help. The “helper” ends up asking for more and more money in what becomes an extortion scam.

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“It’s really important if somebody is online looking for homework help, a tutor, that you’re asking for referrals, you’re checking references, you’re checking to make sure that they’re legitimate,” McGovern added. “Check BBB.org to make sure that they’re a real company before you pay any money to get help with your homework.”

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