Take these 6 steps to prevent getting ripped off by overpriced baby formula scammers.
Now that baby formula is in short supply and high demand, scammers are out in full force to con anxious parents and caregivers into buying overpriced baby formula that the buyer never receives, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
As desperate as you may be to snatch up the first case of baby formula you find advertised for steep prices online, don’t be too quick to pull out your credit card. The ad could be posted by a scammer eager to prey on people who just want to feed their infants.
Taking these six steps recommended by the FTC and Better Business Bureau (BBB) can help you spot and avoid baby formula scammers.
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1. Research the seller and product
Before you purchase what seems like the last supply of baby formula sold online, check out the company and the product. Type in “baby formula,” “scam” and “review” in a search engine.
If the seller is scamming desperate parents, there’s a good chance scathing reviews and stories of being ripped off by that company or other seller will pop up in search results.
2. Pay only with a credit card
If you’ve done your research and decide to purchase baby formula sold for exorbitant prices online, pay with a credit card rather than a debit card, since credit cards offer more protections against fraudulent transactions.
No matter what the seller tells you, never pay with gift cards or other questionable payment methods. “Anyone who demands payment by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency is a scammer,” warns the FTC.
3. Don’t be fooled by sketchy reviews
Does the seller have glowing reviews of its product and customer service on its website? Even if those reviews look legitimate, they could be copied and pasted by scammers from credible baby formula sites and sellers, says the BBB. The same goes for “review” sites of the product.
“Some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers,” says the BBB.
Find out: Know These 5 Red Flags of a Fake Website
4. Look for contact information
Before you purchase baby formula online, check the seller’s website. Look for a “brick-and-mortar” address, says the BBB. Also make sure there’s a customer service number you can call to speak with someone concerning questions, concerning delivery issues or other problems.
Find out: 7 Red Flags a Paid Survey May Be a Scam
5. Know your shipping and delivery rights
Once you purchase a product online, sellers are required by law to ship the product within the time promised or shown in the ad. If the seller gives no timeframe, they must ship the product within 30 days or the date you placed the order, says the FTC.
If shipment is delayed, the seller is legally required to either agree to the delay or cancel the order and issue a refund.
Find out: 7 Signs of a Debt Settlement Scam
6. Don’t buy from social media ads
Stay away from purchasing baby formula for sale via ads on Facebook and other social media sites, warns the BBB. Baby formula scammers who post on social media may be readily available for questions before you make the purchase. Once your payment clears, however, the scammer can’t be reached when the formula never arrives.
Try these baby formula search alternatives instead
Now that you know baby formula scammers are out there waiting to suck your bank account dry or ratchet up your credit balance with fake ads and promises, you may be better off finding baby formula from local resources, says the FTC.
Ask your pediatrician about local resources that may have baby formula to distribute. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources also suggests the following resources:
- Contact the closest Community Action Agency, which may have formula available or can refer you to local agencies that have baby formula in stock.
- Call United Way’s 211, which may be able to connect you with local charities, food pantries and other resources that may have baby formula available.
- Contact an accredited “milk bank” through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Milk banks provide donated breast milk to parents in need, although some may require a prescription from your doctor.
- If you participate in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food assistance program, contact your local office to find local baby formula resources.
Published by Debt.com, LLC