Community post: BBB warning: Formula shortage leads to potential scams

BBB warning: Shortage of infant formula leads to potential scams

Shortages in the supply of infant formula are pushing new mums to find other ways to find the item they so badly need – and to risk possible online scams. The United States Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is taking proactive steps to increase supply to alleviate the shortage.

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

How it works

An ad, post, or social media group advertises an available baby formula. The buyer contacts the seller by 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 company) or Venmo (a BBB accredited company), but the formula never arrives.

Signs of a potential online shopping scam include:

  • Positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers. Be aware that some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers. Check the org.
  • No indication of a physical address or the address appears on a Google map as a parking lot, residence or business unrelated to that shown on the website.
  • Misspellings, grammatical errors or other descriptive language incompatible with the product.
  • The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until payment is made. Once the payment is made, they are unreachable.

Check the website before making a purchase:

  • Visit org to check a company’s rating and BBB accreditation status. Imposters are known to copy the BBB seal. If it is real, clicking on the seal will lead to the company’s BBB profile on– check the domain of the URL.
  • Do an Internet search with the name of the company and the word “scam”. This can locate other complaints about the site.
  • Note the website where the order is placed. Take a screenshot of the item ordered, in case the website goes down or a different item than advertised is received in the mail.
  • Credit cards often offer better protection against fraud than other payment methods.
  • Think before you click.Pay particular attention to email solicitations and online advertisements on social media sites.

Report suspected online shopping fraud to:

  • Better Business Bureau– file a complaint with org or report a scam at
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)– file a complaint at or call 877-FTC-Help.
  • National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center– report intellectual property and infringement violations to gov/referral/view.
  • Internet Crime Complaint Entry (IC3)– file a complaint with gov/complaint.
  • Canadian Anti-Fraud Center– file a report at or call 1-888-495-8501.
  • Facebook– report ads that violate Facebook policies by clicking the *** next to an ad to go to com/business/help.
  • instagram– report copyright infringement or other policy violations on
  • Amazon– report suspicious activity and web pages on com.
  • Google– report scams on com.
  • PayPal– call (888) 221-1161 to speak with a live person instead of using an automated system if you receive an item that is not as advertised.
  • credit card company– Call the phone number on the back of the credit card to report fraud and request a refund.

For more information

For more information or for further information, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers can also find more information on how to protect themselves from scams by following Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.