Parents and caregivers have been coping with a nationwide baby formula shortage. Unfortunately, scammers are exploiting the situation with phony websites selling formula at high prices that don’t really exist. They even post on social media with fake profiles imitating popular well known brands to make shoppers think they’re buying authentic products. If you’re thinking of buying from an unfamiliar website, we’ll offer some tips on how to spot a scam.
Examine the website. Some scammers create websites that look legitimate. If the website is unfamiliar, look for the business's name and contact information. If the website only displays an email address, it is probably best to shop elsewhere. Be especially careful with websites that use gmail.com or yahoo.com email addresses. Be cautious of sites that only operate through online chat also.
Search for the business on www.checkbca.org. You can read complaints, get background information on a business, and read consumer reviews. You’ll also find tips on online shopping and scam alert warnings to keep you informed.
Get more information online. Check for information that can alert you that the offer is a scam. Search the business name along with words such as “reviews”, “complaints”, and “scam”. Also, do an online search of the business's email, phone number, and/or address to see if any other websites come up. Sometimes scammers or less reputable businesses reuse contact information. The discovery may alert you of a possible scam.
Consider your payment method. How you pay can also be a clue that you’re dealing with a scammer. Fraudsters want to get your money fast and they don’t want to leave a trail that will lead back to them. Because of this, they prefer the following payment methods that make it hard for you to get your money back:
- Cash reload cards
- Cryptocurrency or bitcoin
- Wire transfer
- iTunes or Google Play gift cards
You should also be cautious about using payment apps such as CashApp and Venmo, or payment services like PayPal, as scammers often use these methods. If someone asks you to pay them outside the marketplace’s payment system, don’t do it. If you do, you’ll lose any protection the site offers, and you probably won’t get the purchase or a refund. Whenever possible, use a credit card to pay so you have some protections that other payment methods lack.
Track your order. Keep records and track your purchase. It is important to keep your order confirmation, receipt, and any correspondence you receive regarding the order. Merchants have to ship your items within the time stated on their ads or within 30 days. If the seller can’t ship within the time they’ve stated, they must provide a revised shipping date and allow you to cancel the order for a full refund or accept the new date.
Resources If You Can’t Find Formula
If you are having trouble finding baby formula for your child, check with local retailers to see what they have in stock. Try small retailers and drug stores if the larger stores do not have formula. Reach out to your pediatrician to see if they have formula or samples in stock that they may be able to give you. Some local resources you can contact that may be able to connect you with help include:
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