Price gouging protections in effect
As public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus continue to grow, Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia’s anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessary goods and services during an emergency.
Enacted in 2004, Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the 30-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the 10 days immediately prior to the disaster.
Suspected violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or to file a complaint: By phone: (800) 552-9963 or by email: consumer@oag. state.va.us
Additionally, Attorney General Herring has warned Virginians to be wary of scams related to the coronavirus. Below are some tips and ways to protect yourself from coronavirus scams:
- Look out for emails that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the coronavirus. For the most updated information you can visit the CDC and the World Health Organization websites.
- Do not click on any links from unknown sources. This could lead to downloading a virus on your computer or phone.
- Ignore any offers, online or otherwise, for a coronavirus vaccine. If you see any advertisements for prevention, treatment or cures ask the question: if there had been a cure for the disease would you be hearing about that through an advertisement or sales pitch?
- Thoroughly research any organizations or charities purporting to be raising funds for victims of the coronavirus.
- Look out for “investment opportunities” surrounding the coronavirus. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission there are online promotions claiming the products or services of certain publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure the disease and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase because of that.