The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) has received scam reports from Vermonters who have reported receiving calls from scammers claiming to be grandchildren or lawyers representing loved ones in an emergency and that money is needed.
When contacted by someone who asks for money, a gift card to be purchased, funds to be wired, or for any other financial transaction, take steps to verify the identity of your loved one in distress.
Slow down. The scammers urge you to act urgently; don’t.
Write down the phone number of the caller and hang up.
Call your grandchild or any other person who can verify their whereabouts and well-being.
Call another person in your life who cares about you.
Call CAP at 1-800-649-2424. We care and can help identify scams.
Even if you have not been contacted by this scam, now is a great time to connect with loved ones to create a scam action plan in preparation for the likely receipt of scam calls. Consider creating an uncommon family codeword or pin number that you agree to not publicize or share with others. Make a phone tree of reliable contacts to call if a scam like this is received. Learn more about family emergency scams on CAP’s website: ago.vermont.gov/family-imposter. Act now to prevent future loss.
Help CAP stop these scams by sharing this information with those you care about.
If you have lost money to this scam, contact the money transfer company right away! Report the scam to the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424.
For more information on the Attorney General’s efforts to support and protect older Vermonters, visit the webpage of the Attorney General’s Elder Protection Initiative.
There are only two kinds of food a newborn baby can eat: breastmilk and simulated breastmilk, otherwise known as baby formula. Formula has since the eighteen hundreds been a helpful nutritional supplement—establishing itself as a necessity to grow our infants, helping to overcome milk/food allergies or the obstacles that present in breastfeeding, and providing an alternative for families.
At six weeks, my baby developed a milk protein allergy. Still too young to eat solids, my family began investing in the protein dense, nutrient rich smoothie that is formula to make sure she was fed.
Sure, sometimes when I went to the store the preferred brand of her soy-based formula was out of stock. Determined, I sought alternatives to purchasing in-store, so that my baby could have the food she liked. I could buy in bulk from wholesale stores, or direct from the manufacturer online. I opted to have the containers of formula delivered to my doorstep. Upon each delivery arrival, I felt a pang of extreme gratitude in knowing that my baby would eat. I wish I could extend this feeling to every parent navigating the baby formula shortage.
The Biden administration has highlighted the concern of the baby formula shortage with a plan to alleviate the struggle, which was predominately initiated by a voluntary recall at the largest U.S. formula manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, three months ago.
The federal governmenthas been:
Working with other infant formula manufacturers to increase production, expediting the safe import of infant formula from abroad.
Calling on both online and store retailers to establish purchasing limits to prevent the possibility of hoarding.
Simplifying product offerings to increase the speed and scale of production, to stabilize the overall volume of formula available on the market.
Invoking the Defense Protection Act, diverting needed ingredients to infant formula manufacturers before sending the supplies to other consumer goods.
Launching Operation Fly Formula, utilizing Department of Defense commercial aircraft to transport overseas U.S. approved infant formula to deliver it to the store shelves faster.
The FDA is working with the largest U.S. formula producer to reopen Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.
Vermont parents are resilient and savvy–they have been finding solutions to this problem for months. The parents that have been navigating this well know best, but perhaps I can help simplify some of the information that has been circulating. The following, in addition to the VT Department of Health’s help page released last week, might provide some level of clarity.
Caregiver Formula Shortage Do’s and Don’ts
Buy formula online direct from a verified retailer or manufacturer.
Other ways to verify online formula sellers: Check BBB.org complaints and reviews, check the business registrations in the state of incorporation, perform an internet search of the company name and “scam” or “complaints” to find if others have reported problems. Double-check the website address before completing the order. Scammers will create mock websites, looking very similar to known sites.
Abbott Nutrition has a hotline number for families that need specialty formula. For information and orders, call 1-800-881-0876.
Use online parenting social groups, such as on Facebook, to get and share the latest updates.
Your pediatrician is your connection to infant safety. Stay connected regarding infant wellbeing. Lactation consultants are covered under most health insurance providers. They are nurses that provide dietary advice, supplement recommendations, and direct teaching and support for nursing mothers.
Call Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and your pediatrician if you cannot adequately feed your baby.
If this shortage has caused undue hardship and you cannot feed your baby, especially due to the lack of supply, please reach out for help.
Don’t buy from unverified sellers, including unknown websites, sellers in online marketplace social groups, and international sellers that are not FDA approved.
Scammers lurk at every disadvantage. Not engaging in disreputable activities and keeping scammers away will help everyone in the long run.
When you pay more than the fair market price for a product, the price spikes, making products unaffordable for moderate and low-income Vermonters. Price gouging in a market emergency has repeatedly been proven as unfair and deceptive. If you notice steep increases in the price of formula in Vermont, report the store name and location, and as much identifying information about the product as you can provide, including the formula type, size, dollar amount, and the typical price, as well as a picture, if able to the Consumer Assistance Program of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office (CAP).
Don’t buy more than you need. Please don’t hoard.
This may prove difficult, particularly when feeding your baby is at stake. But the economics here are undeniable, if you buy more than you need now while there is a shortage, someone else will go without. It will be difficult, but please stick to the purchasing restrictions outlined by the retailers, as required by the federal government. Calendar your plan to make another formula purchase again before your supply is gone so that you don’t run out.
Don’t use unsafe alternatives: like homemade baby formula, juice, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, plant-based milk, or watered down/diluted baby formula with water.
Baby formula is made to simulate breastmilk with a specialized combination of vitamins and nutrients and its production is FDA monitored. While cow’s milk and other dairy alternatives are yummy for older children and adults, infant bodies can’t adequately digest food alternatives, including excess water, which provokes harm.
This is indeed a stressful time. Those of us on the sidelines are eager to support caregivers and help where we can. While our first inclination may be to buy formula and donate it, this action creates a greater supply problem as it leaves less formula on the shelves for caregivers to purchase when they need it. Instead, if you notice available formula stock, call up an infant caregiver directly and ask them if they would like you to pick it up for them. Another thing you can do for your community is to crowdsource formula supply by taking note of the formula available in your local stores and sharing it with caregiver support groups online. When you notice scams or price gouging in an emergency, report it to CAP at 1-800-649-2424.