As parents and caretakers across the country struggle with a shortage of baby formula, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul advises residents to be vigilant and look out for scammers seeking to exploit those coping with the shortage.
In a news release issued Friday afternoon, Raoul urged people to exercise caution before buying products from unknown sources, especially online.
With the Food and Drug Administration saying it will take "weeks" to replenish the nation's stock of baby formula, what steps can people take to purchase formula - without becoming the victim of a scam?
Raoul's office urges families to abide by the following guidance issued by the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau:
- Research the business selling the product before you make a purchase.
- Consider how you are being asked to pay. For instance, credit cards provide the strongest protections, while payment methods of gift cards, money transfers or cryptocurrency are indications of a scam.
- Be aware, 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 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 cautious with sellers that advertise on a social media platform that may be communicative only until the payment is made. Once the payment clears, they may be unreachable.
Raoul also warned his office will take action against anyone who engages in unlawful conduct and attempts to use the formula shortage to make a quick profit.
Those who believe they have been the victim of a scam or price gouging related to baby formula are encouraged to file an online complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.