Wisconsin BBB warns parents of baby formula shortage scams

"Think before you click."

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau warns that the national baby formula shortage may put parents desperate to feed their babies at risk of potential scams.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is taking proactive measures to increase supply to help ease the shortage, the BBB says with the current supply issues on many items, including baby formula, scammers are watching.

The 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report lists online shopping scans as the riskiest for consumers, so be wary of an ad, post, or social media group posting saying they have baby formula available. Many of these online scams post on social media and have the buyer contact the seller via chat or direct message. They ask the buyer to pay for the formula through a peer-to-peer platform like PayPal or Venmo, but after making the payment, the formula never arrives.

Here are some signs the BBB says may clue you into a potential online scam:

  • Misspellings, grammatical errors, or other 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 clears, they are unreachable.
  • Positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers. Be aware that some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers. Check BBB.org.
  • No indication of a brick-and-mortar address or the address shows on a Google map as a parking lot, residence, or unrelated business than what is listed on the website.

The BBB says there are things you can do before making a purchase online to protect yourself.

  • Do an internet search with the company name and the word “scam.” This may locate other complaints about the site.
  • Make a note of the website claiming to have baby formula in stock. Take a screenshot of the item ordered, in case the website disappears, or if you receive a different item in the mail than what you ordered.
  • Credit cards often provide more protection against fraud than other payment methods.

Finally, think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube