The shortage of baby formula in the U.S. is having a ripple effect across Canadian markets and the Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be wary of online shopping scams.
After an Abbott Nutrition facility in the U.S. shut down due to bacterial contamination earlier this year, widespread formula shortages led to panic buying. Health Canada has issued an interim policy that allows formula manufacturers in Europe to ship their products to Canada.
However, several hypoallergenic formulas remain in short supply, leading parents to search for formula wherever they can get it.
This creates an opportunity for scammers. In a news release, the Better Business Bureau said scams often begin with online ads and posts in social media groups indicating the seller has formula available.
When buyers contact the sellers via online messengers, the seller sends photos of their available products. The seller then asks the buyer to send payment via PayPal or other peer-to-peer payment platforms, but the formula never arrives.
The Better Business Bureau is warning parents not to buy from sellers who don’t have a listed business address, postings that may have misspellings, grammatical errors, or other descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product, and any advertisements posted to social media.
According to the Bureau’s 2021 Scam Tracker Risk Report, one third of all reported scams in Canada were online shopping scams.