RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With the current supply strain on infant formula, parents looking to purchase online may be exposing themselves to scams.
The Better Business Bureau is working to raise awareness of scammers targeting parents looking to feed their infants. Shortages such as this one present an opportunity for scammers and fraudsters because they cause buyers to expand their search significantly.
Typically, the scammer will post on social media or post an ad online saying they have baby formula for sale. The buyer will then contact the scammer, who asks for money through a peer-to-peer platform such as PayPal, Venmo or CashApp, without sending any formula in return.
Online scammers usually show a few indications of illegitimacy, such as:
- Fake positive reviews that are written by the scammers themselves or copied from other websites. Scammers sometimes hire people to write fake reviews for them as well.
- No evidence of an actual place of business online, or the listed address is a parking lot, residence or unrelated business.
- Grammatical errors and misspellings on online listings.
The BBB recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself from potential scams when shopping online.
- Check the business’ rating and accreditation status on BBB.org.
- Search the company’s name, along with the word “scam” to see if anyone has posted online about a victim of a scam.
- Keep track of the website you order from and take screenshots of items ordered in case the website disappears or if a different item is shipped.
- Use credit cards, which generally offer more protection than other payment methods.
- Be especially skeptical of email solicitations and ads on social media.
If you have been the victim of an online scam, or think you may have been exposed to one, the BBB recommends reporting it online.