CT families, beware of potential baby formula scams online, BBB says

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 13: Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 13: Baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store on January 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Scott Olson / Getty Images

As parents navigate the nationwide baby formula shortage, the Better Business Bureau in Connecticut is warning of potential scams.

“Online shopping scams are the riskiest,” the BBB said in a news release Thursday. “With the current supply issues on many items, including formula, scammers are watching.”

The out-of-stock rate for infant formula in Connecticut jumped from 23 percent in the first week of March to 48 percent in the first week of May, according to data from Datasembly, a retail tracking company.

As a result, some retailers like Costco, Walgreens and CVS are limiting how much formula people can purchase, the New York Times reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it is working with manufacturers to maximize their production.

But in the meantime, this has caused some families to look online for baby formula, and the BBB is urging them to be vigilant of ads and posts on social media.

In a potential scam scenario, the buyer contacts the seller via chat or direct message, the seller sends a photos of the cans and the buyer makes a payment through a peer-to-peer platform like PayPal or Venmo, “but the formula never arrives,” the BBB said.

Signs of a potential scam include misspellings, grammatical errors or other descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product. Potential scams may also not have a brick-and-mortar address, or the address provided shows as a parking lot, residence or unrelated business online, according to the BBB.

Scammers may use positive reviews on their website that have been copied from other sites or created by scammers. Though some review websites claim to be independent, they could be funded by scammers. Customer reviews can be found on BBB.org.

Another sign of a potential scam is if the seller is communicative until the payment is made. Once the payment clears, they are silent.

Ways to avoid scams can include checking a business’ rating and accreditation on BBB. Buyers could also search on the internet the company name and the word “scam,” which might locate other complaints.

Be sure to make note of the website where the order is placed. Take a screenshot of the item ordered in case the website disappears or a different item is received in the mail.

And as an extra precaution, use a credit card. Credit cards often provide more protection against fraud than other payment methods, the BBB said.

There are a few ways to report suspected online shopping fraud. You can file a complaint at BBB.org or report a scam at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

Complaints can also be filed through the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.FTC.gov or by calling 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).

If the scam is advertised on social media, you can report ads on Facebook and Instagram, and suspicious activities on Amazon and Google.