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Consumers Should Beware of Price Gauging Under Coronavirus State of Emergency
 

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By Lookout Staff

March 5, 2020 -- As health-related supplies fly off store shelves amid growing fears of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office is asking consumers to beware of illegal price gauging.

Price gouging, or raising the cost of certain goods or services more than 10 percent during a State of Emergency, is against the law, according to the Consumer Protection Division.

A State of Emergency was declared by California Governor Gavin Newsom on March 4, after the state's first death due to coronavirus.

"The ban is in effect in areas such as Santa Monica, even if there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus," the City Attrney's office said.

The ban on price-gouging applies to medical supplies, food, emergency supplies, transportation, temporary and permanent housing, and other essential goods and services.

The price-gouging law applies to both businesses and individuals.

"Prices can be increased by more than 10 percent only if the costs of providing the goods or services also increased," officials said.

The City Attorney's office advises both businesses and consumers to save receipts and records of prices while the State of Emergency is in place.

Those who believe they have been subjected to price-gouging in Santa Monica should contact the Consumer Protection Division at 310-458-8336 or smconsumer.org.

In Los Angeles County, contact the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at dcba.lacounty.gov.

For more information on the coronavirus, click here and here.


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