As families continue to deal with a nationwide shortage of baby formula, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul encourages residents to be alert for scams by individuals attempting to exploit families struggling to find formula.
“The baby formula shortage continues to impact families across Illinois. On top of the stress of locating formula, people must also be on the lookout for scammers looking to take advantage of families’ desperation,” Raoul said. “I urge anyone affected by this shortage to be vigilant for potential scams that could result in financial losses or – more seriously – the inadvertent purchase of unsafe products.”
He’s urging consumers to be cautious before buying any product from unknown sources, especially online. He advises consumers who are or believe they have been the victim of a scam or price gouging related to baby formula to file an online complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.
Raoul also recommends that families follow guidance issued by the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau regarding the baby formula shortage. To avoid baby formula scams, follow these tips:
- Research the business selling the formula before you buy.
- Consider how you are being asked to pay. Credit cards provide the strongest protections, while payment methods of gift cards, money transfers or cryptocurrency are indications of a scam.
- Some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers.
- Be on the lookout for positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers.
- Be cautious if you discover no indication of a brick-and-mortar address or if the address appears on a Google map as a parking lot, residence or a business unrelated to what is listed on the website.
- Misspellings, grammatical errors or other descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product is often a sign of a scam.
- Be wary of sellers who advertise on a social media platform and may be communicative only until payment is made. Once the payment clears, buyers may be unable to reach them.
Raoul is also warning that his office will take action against anyone who attempts to use the formula shortage to make a quick profit. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) expressed concerns to state Attorneys General this week regarding reports of businesses taking advantage of the baby formula shortage. The DOJ offered its assistance to states to ensure that consumers are protected. Defrauding consumers or charging unfairly high prices violates Illinois law and the Attorney General’s office will take action to protect consumers against such conduct.
Individuals who want to report a complaint of fraud or price gouging relating to baby formula can click here.