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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Protect yourself when heading back to school

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

Parents want their dollars to go the furthest when purchasing items for children going back to grade school. For parents who have kids going to college, it’s essential to take time to protect your and their personal information to not fall victim to identity theft.

Better Business Bureau offers the following tips on how to shop smart when starting your back-to-school or off-to-college shopping.

Make a list: You can wait for the school supplies list to come out or start shopping without it. Even if you don’t have the exact list, you should have an idea of what to purchase regarding school clothes and basic supplies. Jot everything down on a list and stick to it! Impulse buying can jack up your overall cost in a hurry.

Shop your home: You may already have some of the items from last year hidden in your home.

Research big-ticket items: Before purchasing an expensive laptop, tablet or dorm refrigerator, be sure to do your research. Research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Also check out the retailer with BBB at bbb.org.

Look for sales: Compare prices between different retailers, save your coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers.

Ask for student discounts: Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students who have either an .edu email address or a student ID.

Shop in bulk: Some teachers ask parents to buy bulk items for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Talk with other parents about what they’re getting and see if you can split the cost.

Know the return policies and save your receipts: Kids can be fickle. They can love a new shirt yesterday but hate it today. Ask about return policies before making your purchase. Be sure to save your receipts just in case you have to return the item.

When your kids are off to college, we encourage you and your child to think about protecting their personal information from identity theft. Believe it or not, children are especially good targets because they have zero credit history and no questionable banking transactions in their history. A child can have their ID stolen through their Social Security number, and you may not find out about it for years.

Here are tips for protecting your child’s identity:

Don’t allow them to carry around their Social Security number. Leave it at home and locked in a safe place.

If a business or school asks for their SSN, 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?

Educate your child on being safe if they are active in the online world. Keep detailed personal information off social media profiles.

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