10 tips for smart shopping for the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection back to school

It’s time to do your back-to-school shopping!

The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has put together a guide to help families shop smart this year.

“Back-to-school shopping can add a lot of financial stress to families, especially as we recover from the pandemic,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas.

The 10 tips below will help parents avoid overspending and make smarter financial decisions:

1. Make a list and create a budget. Help children make smart decisions when choosing which supplies to buy. Get the list of supplies from the teacher, then walk the kids through how to create a budget based on what they need to spend and what they need to get. Whether you’re buying online or in-store, stick to the list and budget.

2. When visiting a store in person, follow store protocols. Buyers may be asked to stay 6 feet from others and wear masks regardless of their immunization status.

3. Compare the prices. Use websites, smartphone apps, and social media to search for products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts. Avoid entering your personal information to get a coupon – some scammers use the promise of discounts to steal your information.

4. Research the prices. Stores must display prices either on the item or on a panel where the item is displayed. It is illegal to charge more than the advertised price.

5. Beware of price gouging. It is illegal for businesses to charge excessive prices for goods or services essential to health, safety, or well-being during a declared state of emergency in New York City. Goods or services include disinfectants, soap, cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, and drugs.

6. Request a receipt and keep it. In New York, you are entitled to an automatic receipt for purchases over $ 20 and on demand for purchases between $ 5 and $ 20. Protect your personal information: By law, a customer’s receipt should not show the expiration date of the credit card or more than its last five digits.

7. Check the store’s refund policies. Stores must display a poster detailing their policy. If they don’t, you are entitled to a refund within 30 days of your purchase.

8. Protect yourself when shopping online. If you plan to do your back-to-school shopping online, make sure you only shop on secure websites. Use familiar websites or do research and read reviews of new websites and verify that links start with https (not just http; the “s” stands for secure) or have a padlock icon. Avoid entering your personal information when using an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Also, don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or on social networking sites – type the address directly into your browser. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information on how to be safe, secure, and responsible online.

9. Be vigilant if someone contacts you claiming to belong to your school or the local Department of Education to ask you for money in exchange for a product or service for a student. This is a scam. Additionally, do not click any links in emails that are not from official email addresses.

10. Teach your children about credit and how it works. Explain that credit cards are not “free money” and that what you pay with the card must be paid back with interest. Teach them how to pay minimum balances versus full balances and the consequences of irresponsible use of a credit card.

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