Baby formula shortage leads to potential scams

MADISON – Wednesday, formula manufacturers appear before a House subcommittee, while the Senate is poised to on a $28M House bill to help the FDA combat the crisis surrounding a national baby formula shortage. This comes as the second round of “Operation Fly Formula” arrives Wednesday. But as families wait for the formula to hit shelves, scammers are attempting to take advantage of the situation.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns online shopping scams are the riskiest; whether it be through direct messaging, well-crafted fake websites, or social media ads claiming your baby’s formula brand is back in stock.

“Scammers love to use Facebook and lure you to your sites,” said Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Director for the BBB. “So maybe you see an ad or it could be a post. They could say they have the merchandise, they could have pictures of it, and ask you to pay via Venmo or credit cards.”

Schultz suggested looking at either https://www.godaddy.com/whois or the BBB’s website to learn when the advertiser’s website was created. If it was made very recently, it’s cause for concern. Alongside that research, she said there are other ways to check up on the website itself.

“If it’s a website, there’s a lot of red flags that you can look for,” Schultz said. “The first thing you should be doing is looking at the website address. Does it start with an HTTP or does it start with an HTTPS? That ‘s’ is always going to stand for secure. Look at the content of the website. Are there grammatical errors or misspellings? If there are, it could be a scam.”

Schultz also suggested looking at contact information to see if the site’s listed physical address leads to a real office. She said it’s also a good idea to try calling the phone number listed to see if it’s in use.

If you are a victim of a scam, you’re asked to report it to the BBB. You can do so by clicking or tapping here.

Meanwhile, one of the major companies at the heart of the baby formula shortage says it plans to restart its plant next week. Abbott Nutrition will restart production at its facility in Sturgis, MI on June 4. But the company does not expect the first batches of new formula to be available until around June 20.

Abbott shut down its Sturgis plant back in February after FDA investigators found bacteria in several areas inside the plant. This led to a nationwide recall of its baby formula products.