CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: Scammers prey on parents during baby formula shortage

Published: May. 22, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2022 at 10:36 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - There’s a new warning about scammers using the baby formula shortage to take advantage of parents.

The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin and Federal Trade Commission are urging consumers to be cautious with those trying to capitalize on a crisis.

A text message shared with Action 2 News asks the recipient to “reply yes” if “your child used the formula Enfamil or Similac and was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis.”

We asked the Better Business Bureau to take a look at the text. They said it didn’t appear to come from a working phone number and it was likely a phishing scam.

We know there is an FDA investigation underway into baby formula maker Abbott. But the BBB says a legitimate company wouldn’t reach out to people this way. Also, they would identify themselves.

In February, the plant in Michigan was closed due to concerns that may have been linked to two infant deaths and two infant illnesses. Abbott says there’s no link between the factory and babies who got sick.

The FDA has not released a final ruling.

This played a part in the current baby formula shortage. The U.S. government has stepped in get the Michigan plant up and running again.

The BBB is also warning families to be cautious of online scams.

Moms have reported buying formula on Facebook and being asked to pay using a peer-to-peer payment system. Once the money is sent, moms report getting fake tracking information. They never get the formula.

Officials urge consumers to watch for spelling errors, grammar errors and deals that seem to good to be true.

The BBB has a Scam Tracker where you can report a suspicious experience to help others avoid the same traps.

ABC News reports seven states have reports of baby formula scams and parents losing money.

Officials haven’t seen the scams yet in Wisconsin, and they hope they can prevent local families from falling victim.

Here are some tips:

Pay with a credit card. You have a better chance of getting money back if you never receive your order.

If you are using a cash payment app, use the goods and services function. It’s offered on Paypal and Venmo. It may help you get a refund.

If you believe you’re a victim, report it to authorities.

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