Need to know: BBB warns of baby formula scams

Agency warns of online scams aimed at getting personal information and money
As the baby formula shortage continues, some parents and grandparents may get desperate. The Better Business Bureau warns not to fall for scams promising a good deal.
Photo credit AP Photo

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As the baby formula shortage grasps hold on families across Western New York, the Better Business Bureau is warning parents not to fall for scams promising a good deal or availability.

According to the 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, online shopping scams are the riskiest. Scammers are watching the current supply issues on many items, including formula.

How it works

An ad, post, or social media group posts they have baby formula available. The buyer contacts the seller via chat or direct message, showing photos of the cans available. The buyer makes a payment through a peer-to-peer platform such as PayPal (a BBB Accredited Business) or Venmo (a BBB Accredited Business), but the formula never arrives.

Signs of a potential online purchase scam include:

Positive reviews that were copied from legitimate sites or created by scammers. Some review websites claim to be independent but are paid for by scammers. Check BBB.org.

There is no indication of a brick-and-mortar address, or the address shows on a Google map as a parking lot, residence, or unrelated business.

Misspellings, grammatical errors, or other descriptive languages that are not consistent with the product.

The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until the payment clears. Once that happens, they are unreachable.Check out the website before making a purchase:

Visit BBB.org to check a business's rating and BBB accreditation status. Impostors copy the BBB seal. If it is genuine, clicking on the seal will lead to the company's BBB profile on BBB.org - check the URL's domain.

Conduct an internet search with the company name and "scam." Doing this may locate other complaints about the site.

Make a note of the website where you place the order. Take a screenshot of the item ordered.

Better Business Bureau - file a complaint at BBB.org or report a scam at BBB.org/scamtracker.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - file a complaint at reportfraud.ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-Help.
National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center - report intellectual property and counterfeiting violations to iprcenter.gov/referral/view.
Internet Crime Complaint enter (IC3) - file a complaint at ic3.gov/complaint.
Facebook – report ads that violate Facebook's policies by clicking the *** next to an ad to go to facebook.com/business/help.
Instagram - report copyright infringement or other policy violations at help.instagram.com.
Amazon – report suspicious activities and web pages at Amazon.com.
Google – report scams at Google.com.
PayPal - call (888) 221-1161 to speak with a live person instead of using an automated system if you receive an item that is not as advertised.
Credit card company - Call the phone number on the back of the credit card to report the fraud and request a refund.