File Photo | Photo: ParentingPatch / Wikimedia Commons (CC)

The state’s attorney general is urging residents in Illinois to be vigilant for scammers trying to exploit families who are struggling to find baby formula during the national shortage.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Friday that the baby formula shortage continues to impact families across Illinois.

“On top of the stress of locating formula, people must also be on the lookout for scammers looking to take advantage of families’ desperation,” Raoul said.

“I urge anyone affected by this shortage to be vigilant for potential scams that could result in financial losses or – more seriously – the inadvertent purchase of unsafe products,” he said.

Raoul urged consumers to exercise caution before buying any product from unknown sources, particularly those online.

He also encouraged consumers who believe they have been the victim of a scam or price gouging related to baby formula to file an online complaint with the attorney general’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

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Raoul said he recommends that families follow guidance issued by the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau in response to the baby formula shortage.

The attorney general’s office said consumers should research the business selling the product before making a purchase and consider how payment is being made.

“For instance, credit cards provide the strongest protections, while payment methods of gift cards, money transfers or cryptocurrency are indications of a scam,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

“Be aware, some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers. Be on the lookout for positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers. Be cautious if you discover no indication of a brick-and-mortar address or if the address appears on a Google map as a parking lot, residence or business unrelated to what is listed on the website,” the statement said.

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Misspellings and grammatical errors are often a sign of a scam.

“Be cautious with sellers that advertise on a social media platform that may be communicative only until the payment is made. Once the payment clears, they may be unreachable,” the attorney general’s office said.

Raoul said his office will take action against anyone who engages in unlawful conduct in an attempt to use the formula shortage to “make a quick profit.”

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week expressed concerns to state attorneys general related to reports of businesses taking advantage of the baby formula shortage.

Those who wish to report a complaint of fraud or price gouging related to baby formula should visit the Illinois Attorney General’s website or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud hotlines.

The Chicago area hotline is 800-386-5438.

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