Concern about the national shortage of baby formula has many concerned parents turning to whatever sources they can to obtain these essential products.  Unfortunately, this has created the perfect storm for unscrupulous scammers to market and sell non-existent baby formula to desperate parents.

Often the scammers make contact with their targeted victims through social media or through phony websites that can appear to be legitimate.  Generally, the scammers request that payment be made by Zelle or Venmo and this is a tip off that it is a scam because legitimate businesses do not demand payment through these payment systems.  Zelle, Venmo and other peer to peer payment systems should never be used for commercial purchases because of the extreme difficulty in getting your money back if, as with the baby formula purchases, you buy something that you never receive.

TIPS

Even if a website has good reviews, they may not be legitimate.  Either the scammer copied positive reviews form other sites or the scammer wrote the positive reviews.  It can be very helpful to find out to whom the website where you are considering shopping is registered. You can go to http://www.whois.com and find out who actually owns the website at which you are considering shopping and if it doesn’t match who they say they are, you should stay away from it. A company that purports to be located in America, but whose website is owned by someone in Singapore is a good indication that it is a scam.

You can also check to see if the brick and mortar address of a company you are considering buying from is actually located where they say they are by using Google maps.

Finally, whenever you are making an online purchase, you should only use a credit card because if you do get scammed, your credit card company will refund your payment.  As I often have mentioned, you don’t get the same protection when using a debit card.

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