CHICAGO — The Illinois attorney general is urging families to be wary as scammers are trying to take advantage of parents during the formula shortage.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul urged parents in a news release to be careful when buying formula online or from people they do not know. He encourages families to follow guidance from the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau when looking to buy baby formula.
“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 in the news release. “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.”
Consumers who believe they may have been the victim of a baby formula scam or price gouging related to baby formula can file an online complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Bureau or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud hotlines: 800-386-5438 (Chicago), 800-243-0618 (Springfield) and 800-243-0607 (Carbondale).
Raoul’s office will take action against anyone engaging in criminal behavior to use the formula shortage to make a financial profit, he said.
Raoul’s tips for avoiding baby formula scams:
- Research the business selling the product before buying.
- Consider the method of payment businesses are asking for. 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 may be 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 there’s 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 may be often a sign of a scam.
- Being 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.
To respond to the shortage and help families avoid scams, a group of local residents have formed the Chicagoland Baby Formula Collection Project. They are collecting unopened unexpired formula from local parents to give to low-income families for free.
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