At a time when Californians should be pulling together (while maintaining social distance), some are attempting to exploit the pandemic at the expense of everyone else.
On April 3, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order expanding consumer protection against price gouging as California continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, which runs from April 4, 2020 to September 4, 2020, generally prohibits sellers of any kind from increasing prices on food, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and certain other items by more than 10 percent of the price charged for that item on February 4, 2020. The order also gives additional tools to the California Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office, among others, to take action against price gougers.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert declaring that price gouging is illegal in all CA communities when a state of emergency is declared.
To avoid becoming a victim, here are some tips to think about:
- If you must go shopping, plan ahead. Being a mindful shopper can help make sure there are supplies for everyone. Keeping a little extra of your typical supply will go a long way.
- When you go shopping, only shop from places you trust. Many of us shop online or have subscription services that deliver items to our homes – but in times like these, online marketplaces can be tricky. Check to see if the product has reviews, or try to compare other prices online.
- The widespread panic about the uncertain future has caused many people to buy products in large quantities that they may not end up using. So please, avoid hoarding so that scammers and price gougers have less of an opportunity to engage.
- If you are skeptical about the price of a product, do not buy it.
If you think you’ve been the victim of price gouging, or have information regarding potential price gouging, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General Office by calling (800) 952-5225.
Price Gouging Resources
Office of the Attorney General
Scam Protection Resource