“Scammers exploiting the high demand for baby formula have sunk to new lows,” the agency said.
The FTC announced they're seeing scammers setting up fake websites or profiles on social media platforms offering baby formula, using images of well-known and trusted brands like Similac and Enfamil. Consumers think they are buying products from the companies' official websites, but never receive the product and are out hard-earned cash.
The FTC said before ordering from an unfamiliar online store, there are a number of things to check for to avoid a scam.
First, check out the company or product with a simple search. Use words like "review," "complaint," or "scam."
Secondly, consider how you pay. Any seller who requires you pay with a gift card, money transfer or cryptocurrency should be a red flag. Credit cards are often the safest way to pay as they offer the strongest protections. Sometimes buyers can even get their money back if the product never comes, if ordered via credit card.
And finally, know your rights. When a consumer shops online, sellers are supposed to ship your item within the time stated in their advertising, or within a required 30 days if ads don't specify a time-line. "If the seller still has not or cannot ship the item within the allotted time, it has to give you a revised shipping date, which will include the chance to cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date," the FTC said.
While desperate parents continue to be met with empty shelves and out-of-stock messages on online retailers, the FTC encouraged formula-seekers to search for local resources. Call your pediatrician to see if they have anything in stock or can help you with resources.
Locally, a mother in Swampscott created her own website to address the national shortage of formula. The "Free Formula Exchange" connects families across the country in need to donors with a surplus of formula.
If you suspect you've been scammed, you can report it here.
The shortage of baby formula started earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, but has worsened in the law few weeks after a Michigan manufacturing plant was shut down in February, when two infants who consumed formula produced there caught bacterial infections and died.
The Food and Drug Administration has reached a deal with Abbott Nutrition, the plant's owner, earlier this week to help ease the growing shortage.
The White House also working to relieve the shortage and said last week it would it easier to import the product from abroad.
WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports