San Diego, California - OK, it’s back-to-school time! Let’s start off with a little math review.

20.34%

That’s the percentage of stores the County inspected last year that had overcharges at checkout registers.

100%

That’s how much of the time you should check your receipts – for back-to-school shopping or any type of purchase.

Every year, San Diego County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures  inspects thousands of businesses to make sure that all the devices that scan, weigh or measure the things people buy are actually charging customers accurately and that people are getting what they pay for.

Those stores overcharging averaged nearly $3 per error. And while $3 doesn’t seem like much, it can add up when you consider that total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $26.5 billion - that’s billion with a “B” - in the U.S. this year.

And you might just want to make the “check your receipts” message your children’s first lesson of the new school year — because they’re consumers too.

This back-to-school season, teens are expected to spend $913 million of their own money, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

So here are some great tips to show you how you can protect your wallet and spend your precious dollars smarter than ever before this back-to-school season:

Protect Against Overcharging:

  • Always verify receipts and immediately notify store management of any price discrepancies.
  • Take sales advertisements with you when shopping to verify prices.
  • Know that stores cannot legally charge more than their lowest advertised, posted or quoted price.

Shop Smart:

  • Plan ahead. Start watching for store sale fliers, flea markets, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.
  • Make a list of what you need.
  • Comparison shop with at least five different sources for the best values.
  • Don’t buy everything at once. Establish a spending plan and timetable to buy what you need over several weeks or months to take full advantage of future sales and true bargains.
  • Call Agriculture, Weights and Measures at 1-888-TRUE SCAN (1-888-878-3722) to report overcharges you can’t resolve with store.

For more information, visit the department’s consumer protection Web page.