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Experts say that scammers are taking advantage of parents frantically searching for baby formula

"Take your time and research before buying into anything, especially when it's in a crisis situation such as this."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The nationwide formula shortage continues to leave parents feeling frantic, some grabbing whatever they can get their hands on just to keep babies fed.

Unfortunately, criminals are now using the opportunity to take advantage. We asked experts what parents should look out for before they click "buy."  

Empty shelves are becoming the reality for parents across the country.

"You don't really know where to turn when you go to Kroger and the formula is not there."

The low stock is leading to uncertainty and desperation. 

Basically, what Cara Carlin with the Better Business Bureau calls, the perfect storm.

"It's important to remember that parents will do whatever they can to ensure their children are fed and this is exactly the type of environment that scammers love," she said.

According to Carlin, there's already been reports nationally and locally of hopeless parents buying formula online and never getting the food for their baby.

"A lot of times this is happening in your Facebook groups or in your Instagram group chats, or Reddit threads.  People are discussing this and then scammers are kind of interjecting themselves in the conversation saying, 'Hey, I have formula,'" she said.

The Better Business Bureau said these are the biggest red flags to watch out for if you're buying baby formula online. 

First, make sure it's a trusted website.

 This means looking out for things like customer service or an actual business address. If you're choosing to buy it through social media, only do it if you know the seller personally. 

Another major red flag, is urgency. 

Carlin said, if the advertisement says they only have two more left in stock or the seller says you have to buy it right now, be cautious.

"Just be very cautious of anything offering formula as of right now because we know that this is a confusing environment, people are searching for it, it's not around in the stores, and scammers will take advantage," she said.

A couple other things Carlin said to look out for is the cost of formula, misspellings in ads and if you are going to buy online, do it with a credit card.

"Take your time and research before buying into anything, especially when it's in a crisis situation, such as this," she said.

Carlin added it's always important to report any type of scamming. 

If you're nervous about a certain website or advertisement, you can always reach out to the BBB at 501-664-4888.

You can find more tips about this specific scam here

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