Skip to content

Price Gouging in the Time of COVID-19

Published October 21, 2020 by David Wolff
Price Gouging in the Time of COVID-19

Price gouging- generally an increase of more than 10%- is sweeping the nation in light of the COVID-10 Pandemic. And the Buffalo, NY area is no exception. But what can you do to protect yourself as a consumer?

Price Gouging Correlating with Vulnerability

With strain on distribution networks and critical supplies increasing in demand, opportunists are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to line their own pockets. And as the surge in coronavirus-related price-gouging claims across the United States, panic-buying consumers are being stretched thin.

Typical during a declared state of emergency, exploiting parties are peddling for enormous profit. With hand sanitizer going for $60/bottle, face masks for $40/pair and bleach for $8.99, states are beginning to step in. State governments are using existing laws, passing new ones and taking executive action to combat price gouging.

Combatting Price Gouging & How you Can Help

Amidst this pandemic, you shouldn’t have to overpay for basic necessities. So know you aren’t helpless and have options to combat this criminal behavior.

At the local level, Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson said some corner stores in his district are charging upwards of a 700% markup for essential products. He indicated he understands there are supply issues but he sees a need to step in. So he’s proposing the Erie County Office of Public Advocacy take a closer look.

Federal price-gouging legislation has also been introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Attorney General William Barr promised repercussions on any price gouging in connection with the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of public health products such as face masks, respirators, and diagnostics.

The U.S. Justice Department would hold accountable “bad actors” who violate antitrust laws. Barr disclosed, “The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time.” He continued “I am committed to ensuring that the department’s resources are available to combat any wrongdoing and protect the public.”

Contributing to the cause, President Trump signed an executive order to prevent price gouging and hoarding of medical supplies under the Defense Production Act. This prohibits hoarding of needed resources by designating them as scarce or threatened by people accumulating excessive amounts. This authorizes the administration to criminally prosecute anyone hoarding designated critical supplies.

State attorneys general have the authority to issue cease-and-desist letters to price gougers, investigate them, issue fines and file lawsuits. And if you feel you’re a victim of price gouging, don’t fight it alone; contact your attorney as soon as possible.

When people ignore their civil obligation, or blatantly defy it with the intent to harm, they are responsible for their actions. So when it comes to understanding the various ways in which personal injury or negligence has impacted your daily life, Joe Nicastro, esq is your source.

Remaining opening and fully functional during these trying times, Joe helps you determine your best possible route in pursuing any monetary damages you deserve.

Learn more here.

Associations & Awards
  • bar association of erie county logo
  • nystla logo
  • superlawyers
  • american board of trial advocates logo
  • american board of criminal lawyers logo
Our Office Location
Buffalo Office