Message from the Attorney General; Price Gouging
In the days since both the President and the Governor declared a state of emergency due to the threat of Coronavirus, we have seen the indomitable spirit of the American people spring to life. Stories of neighbors shopping for neighbors who are in isolation. Clothing factories repurposing themselves to make medical masks and distilleries donating thousands of ounces of hand sanitizer manufactured in their barrels. It is precisely the inspiration we need right now.
Regrettably, we have also seen a few bad actors demonstrate the darker side of humanity, engaging in truly unconscionable acts that prey on people when they are most vulnerable. My consumer protection team has been fielding dozens of calls from consumers across the State over the past week about possible price gouging for critical items like water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
To be fair, not all increased costs constitute price gouging and I am very sympathetic to the small businesses that have seen their margins shrink by increased wholesale costs. But, let me be clear: My office will not tolerate price gouging or any scams that take advantage of these circumstances. We have been sending cease and desist letters to offenders brought to our attention and will continue to do so and take any other appropriate actions to protect the people of Mississippi.
I am particularly troubled by the reports we have received of possible price gouging of items that hospitals, first responders, and other health care providers need to help keep themselves safe while caring for us and our loved ones. These are the men and women on the front lines in this battle. They put themselves at risk each and every day to nurse us back to health and we should be doing all we can to support them. The U.S. Department of Justice has established a Procurement Collusion Strike Force and is on high-alert for precisely this purpose. My office will work closely with them on any instances of price fixing, bid-rigging, market allocation schemes, or other anti-competitive conduct aimed at our health care providers.
If you experience what you think may be price gouging, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org, and include as much information as you can about the circumstances. If possible, take a picture of the price sign or item that is date- and time-stamped and send it with your inquiry. All of us at the Attorney General’s Office are here to help and protect you in this crisis. We will get through this together.