New parents are shopping for infant formula amidst shortages, which can expose them to potential scams, reports the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB).
As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recent measures it is implementing to ease the nationwide shortage, the BBB warns parents to remain cautious if purchasing formula milk online.
According to the BBB, scams have started to surface in which a buyer contacts a seller who claims to have formula available, via an ad or social media post. The seller would show photos of formula and the buyer would make payment through a transaction platform such as PayPal or Venmo. However, the BBB reports that the formula then never arrives.
The BBB advises following these steps to determine legitimacy before making a purchase:
- Visit the BBB website here to check if a seller is BBB rated and accredited. It is best to verify this through the BBB website, as some scammers have been known to copy the BBB seal and place it on their website or social media accounts.
- Do an online search with the name of the seller and the term “scam”. This can return the results of complaints about the seller.
- Take a screenshot of the website if you place an order, including a screenshot of the item ordered, in case the website is taken down or a different item than advertised is received.
- Using a credit card often offers better protection against fraud than other payment methods. The phone number on the back of the credit card can be called to report fraud and request a refund.
- Beware of email solicitations and online advertisements on social media sites.
The BBB also reports the following signs of a potential scam:
- Positive reviews on a website that have been copied from other reputable websites, or reviews that have been created by scammers.
- No indication of a brick and mortar location from information provided by seller, or a Google search of seller’s address that shows unrelated parking, residence or business.
- Misspellings, grammatical errors or descriptive language incompatible with the product.
- The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until payment is made. Once the payment is processed, they are unreachable and the product does not arrive.
You can report suspected online fraud to the BBB by filing a complaint online or by reporting a scam here.
You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission here or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.
Intellectual property violations and counterfeiting can be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center here.
An Internet crime complaint can be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation here.
Additional online shopping resources are available on the BBB website here.