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Central East Texas BBB warns parents to be cautious when buying baby formula amidst shortage

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Published: May. 17, 2022 at 1:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Shortages in the supply of baby formula are leading parents to find other ways of finding the much needed item.

The Better Business Bureau warns parents to be cautious when looking for formula.

“Scammers are taking advantage of mothers who are in desperate need of formula,” Mechele Mills, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas said. “They know that it’s scarce and so what they’re doing is they’re mainly contacting them via social media and showing pictures of baby formula that they have in stock, but they don’t really have in stock.”

UT Tyler marketing professor Dr. Kerri Camp attributes the shortage to product recalls, changes in supply and demand, and federal policies. Dr. Camp said the recall of formula manufacturer Abbott was the “most significant issue that’s affected the shortage.”

Now, the nation’s largest formula maker reached an agreement with the FDA to restart production at its largest domestic factory.

“The Abbott plant in Michigan is supposed to be back up and running in two weeks, so there should be a normal flow of product back to the shelves, within about 6 to 8 weeks, we should see them return to previous levels,” Dr. Camp said.

“We’re talking about mothers and babies here, and it’s terrible that we have scammers to begin with but when they’re taking advantage of mothers who need to feed and nourish their children it is just severely disappointing and disheartening,” Mills said.

The BBB shared these signs of a potential online purchase scam:

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

“Just be aware that this is happening and so when you see somebody who is selling baby formula or claims to be selling baby formula, check them out,” Mills said.

If you believe you experienced a baby formula shortage scam or you suspect that there’s one taking place, the BBB urges you to file a complaint at BBB.org or report a scam at BBB.org/scamtracker.

BBB has an online shopping resource page and tips for shopping online.

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