Better Business Bureau warns parents seeking formula of online scams

New parents are searching for baby formula amid shortages, which can put them at risk for potential scams, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reports.

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 buying formula online.

According to the BBB, scams have begun surfacing in which a buyer contacts a seller who reports having baby formula available, through an ad or social media post. The seller reportedly shows photos of baby formula and the buyer makes a payment through a transaction platform such as PayPal or Venmo. However, the BBB reports the formula then never arrives.

The BBB advises following these steps to determine legitimacy before making a purchase:

  • Visit the BBB’s website here to check whether a seller is rated and BBB 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.
  • Conduct an online search with the seller’s name and the term “scam.” This may return results of complaints about the seller.
  • Take a screenshot of the website if placing an order, including a screenshot of the item ordered, in case the website is removed or a different item is received than what was advertised.
  • Using a credit card often provides more protection against fraud than other payment methods. The phone number on the back of the credit card can be called to report fraud and to request a refund.
  • Be cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media websites.

The BBB also reports the following are 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 the seller’s provided information, or a Google search of the seller’s address that shows a parking lot, residence, or unrelated business.
  • Misspellings, grammatical errors, or descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product.
  • The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until the 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 reporting a scam here.

You can also submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission here, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.

Intellectual property and counterfeiting violations may be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center here.

An internet crime complaint may be submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation here.

Additional resources on online shopping can be found on the BBB website here.