The Investigators: Attorneys General are flooded with price gouging complaints. Is the practice always illegal?

MArch 18, 2020 – Attorney General Offices in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas have been busy with complaints from consumers who are seeing an unfair rise in prices in the midst of this pandemic.

Attorneys General are the only agencies in the Mid-South with the power to investigate price gouging.

Price gouging laws are only triggered when the Governors in their respective states declare a State of Emergency.

In Tennessee, most of the complaints center around increased prices for hand-sanitizer according to Jeff Hill, Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection.

He says their office has also been investigating increased prices for toilet paper.

Price gouging laws are meant to protect consumers from overpaying for emergency and medical supplies.

The WMC Action News 5 Investigators have also heard daycares are increasing costs and at least one landlord has encouraged their tenants to pay early.

Hill says it’s unlikely either of these practices is illegal but that if a complaint is made, his office would check to see if there is a consumer protection law that may have been violated.

Their office said it’s investigating every complaint quickly. You’re asked to complain with as much information as possible.

“We go out and sometimes the stores says they did not sell for those prices so it’s hard without a receipt or specific information to verify but nevertheless they’re not doing it now,” Hill told The Investigators. “That’s the important thing so that people can get the supplies they need without sacrificing food or other items they would also need to purchase.”

By Jessica Jaglois, WMC Action News 5
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