10 tips for smart back-to-school shopping from NYC's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection

It's time to do your back-to-school shopping!
New York City's Department of Consumer and Worker Protections (DCWP) put together a guide to help families shop smart this year.
“Back-to-school shopping can add a lot of financial stress for 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 kids make smart decisions when choosing which supplies to buy. Get the teacher’s supply list and then educate children about how to create a budget based on how much they have to spend and what they need to get. Whether you shop online or in-store, stick to the list and the budget.
2. When visiting a store in-person, follow the store protocols. Shoppers may be asked to stay 6 feet from others and wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
STATE OF OUR SCHOOLS: Back-to-school resources
3. Compare prices. Use websites, smartphone apps, and social media to research 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. Look for prices. Stores must post prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. It is illegal to charge more than that posted price.
5. Beware of price gouging. It is illegal for businesses to charge excessive prices for goods or services essential to health, safety, or welfare during a declared state of emergency in New York City. Goods or services include disinfectants, soap, cleaning products, diagnostic products and services, and medicines.
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6. Ask for a receipt and save it. In New York City, you are entitled to a receipt automatically for purchases of more than $20 and upon request for purchases between $5 and $20. Protect your personal information—by law, a customer’s receipt must not show the credit card’s expiration date or more than its last five digits.
7. Check store refund policies. Stores must post a sign 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 are planning to do your back-to-school shopping online, make sure to shop on secure websites only. Use familiar websites or research and read reviews of new websites and check that links start with https (not just http; the “s” stands for secure) or have a padlock icon. Avoid typing your personal information when using unsecured Wi-Fi. Also, don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or on social media 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 on alert if someone contacts you claiming to be from your school or local department of education requesting money in exchange for a product or service for a student. This is a scam. Also, do not click on any links in emails that do not come 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 for with the card must be paid back with interest. Teach them about paying minimum balances versus the full balance and about the consequences of using a credit card irresponsibly.
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