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How to spot and report price gouging in Texas during coronavirus crisis

Price increases doesn’t always mean price gouging is taking place

Amazon says it has pulled more than 1 million products for price gouging
Amazon says it has pulled more than 1 million products for price gouging

The spread of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus has prompted many people to share concerns over possible price gouging in Texas.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, price gouging is illegal and the Texas attorney general has authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging after a disaster has been declared by the governor or president.

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday issued a disaster declaration in Texas over the virus. The state defines price gouging as such:

  • Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price.
  • Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity.

The state adds on its website that high prices alone do not mean that price gouging has taken place and that businesses are generally allowed to determine the prices for their products.

However, if a disaster has been declared and businesses take advantage by raising prices of their products to exorbitant or excessive rates, then it is likely that price gouging is taking place.

Anyone who has encountered price gouging during the coronavirus outbreak is asked to call the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-621-0508.

You can also send an email to consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

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