Parents, Don't Fall For This Baby Formula Scam
June 7, 2022
By Chris Jackson
Vice President of Retail Services
If you’re caring for a baby who relies on formula, you know all about the recent formula shortages that have affected millions of families around the country. Unfortunately, scammers have also been tracking this frustrating development and have found new and awful ways to exploit the crisis for their own illegal gain.
The FTC has issued a warning to consumers who are seeking desperately needed baby formula. “[Scammers are] popping up online and tricking desperate parents and caregivers into paying steep prices for formula that never arrives,” the agency explains, before urging consumers to exercise caution and practice healthy skepticism when ordering on the Web.
How the scam works:
The baby formula scam works just like a lot of other kinds of shopping fraud. Scammers typically create fake websites, ads and/or social media profiles — on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other messaging platforms — that claim to have an inventory of formula. They’ll use product images and logos of well-known brands to suggest credibility.
In the example below, after someone posted a plea on Facebook looking for affordable formula, a scammer responded with a personal message pretending to have it.
Example of a Baby Formula Scam
Photo source: LEX18 News (Lexington, Ky.)
The criminal's goal is to make you think you’re buying products from an official website, or real person on social media, when in fact they’re taking your money without any intention of fulfilling your order. They usually charge considerably higher prices because of consumer demand. Unfortunately, if you fall victim to this scam, you’ll likely never see that money return to your wallet.
How to avoid the scam:
The FTC recommends taking certain steps if you’re thinking about ordering from a store where you don’t typically shop:
• See what other people are saying. You might not have time to ask friends and family if they’ve heard of the company, but you can type the company name into a search engine and follow it up with words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” If you see any indication that the company might be fraudulent, don’t place an order.
• Pay cautiously. You should never send money to a seller who demands payment by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency. Only use a payment app — like Venmo, CashApp or Zelle® on the SNB Mobile App — if you actually know the person who you're sending money.
• Read the fine print on shipping. The FTC explains, “When you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, it has to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.” If this isn't listed anywhere on the website, don't click the “Buy” button.
• Avoid shopping online in favor of local resources. Your pediatrician’s office might have formula samples or formula back stock available. If you qualify for or participate in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition assistance program, contact your local WIC agency.
If you think you’ve spotted a scam, contact the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, which helps law enforcement partners gain important information about scams. If you’re a customer of Security National Bank and you suspect you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact us.
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