As families with young children continue to grapple with the struggles that have arisen from the nationwide baby formula shortages, the New York attorney general is warning about the potential for price gouging.
Letitia James put out a consumer alert on Wednesday, advising shoppers to be on the lookout for instances where the price for the in-demand product is exorbitantly high. James said that her office is aware of reports that baby formula is being sold online at rates far above its retail price.
"The national baby formula shortage is terrifying for parents concerned about how to feed their children," James said in the alert. "The last thing any family needs is to be price gouged on critical nutrition for their little ones, which is why I am putting profiteers seeking to take advantage of this crisis on notice."
The attorney general said that those who see far higher than usual prices to report it to her office. She urged New Yorkers to speak with their child's doctor before possibly altering the formula, or using it in any way other than it is intended. James also advised against "panic buying" and said shoppers should only get what they need, as anything more could make the shortage worse.
New York law prohibits sellers from taking advantage of consumers by selling goods or services vital to their health and safety at excessive prices. James said that while increasing prices dramatically is against the law, it is not against the law for retailers to limit the amount of a product, like formula, they sell to individual consumers.
In some parts of the state, many parents have had to turn to places like nonprofit Angels of Long Island, which held a formula drive in order to help families desperately scrambling to find nourishment for their babies.
Debbie Loesch founded the group, and as a grandma of four, she understands the anxiety parents are facing right now. Once her shelves are empty, Loesch is urging those with extra formula to share.
"As long as it comes in until this is over, I think we all can help each other," she said.
When reporting price gouging to OAG, James said consumers should:
• Report the specific increased prices, the dates and places that they saw the increased prices, and the types of formula being sold
• Provide copies of their sales receipts and photos of the advertised prices, if available.
New Yorkers should report potential concerns about price gouging to OAG by filing a complaint online or call 800-771-7755.