BBB says baby formula shortage leads to potential scams

Shortages in baby formula have caused families to find other ways of finding the much-needed item — and risking themselves to potential online scams.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is taking proactive measures to increase supply to help ease the shortage.

According to the 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, online shopping scams are the riskiest. With the current supply issues on many items, including formula, scammers are watching.

How it works
An ad, post, or social media group posts they have baby formula available. The buyer contacts the seller via chat or direct message, showing photos of the cans available. The buyer makes a payment through a peer-to-peer platform such as PayPal (a BBB Accredited Business) or Venmo (a BBB Accredited Business), but the formula never arrives.

Signs of a potential online purchase scam include: 

  • Positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers.
  • No indication of a brick-and-mortar address or the address shows on a Google map as a parking lot, residence, or unrelated business than what is listed on the website.
  • Misspellings, grammatical errors, or other descriptive language.
  • The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until the payment is made.

Once the payment clears, they are unreachable.

Check out the website before making a purchase: 

  • Visit  to check a business’s rating and BBB accreditation status.
  • Conduct an internet search with the company name and the word “scam.”
  • Make a note of the website where the order is placed. Take a screenshot of the item ordered, in case the website disappears, or a different item is received in the mail than what was advertised.
  • Credit cards often provide more protection against fraud than other payment methods.

Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites.