VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Since the coronavirus began ramping up earlier this month, store shelves have been emptied of basics like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and soap.
10 On Your Side has also seen reports of people leveraging those shortages by overcharging for necessities.
On both the state and federal level, price gouging during disasters and emergencies is illegal.
President Donald Trump’s executive order focuses on targeting offenders who hoard and gouge the price of medical supplies like gloves and masks.
On the state level, consumers can report inflated prices for everyday necessities, including cleaning supplies, food, water, ice and gasoline.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s press secretary, Charlotte Gomer told 10 On Your Side the office has received 120 reports of price gouging since the pandemic began, and she wants to continue getting complaints.
Gomer did not give an exact threshold or criteria for what constitutes price gouging, but wrote in an email that if a price seems extremely high during and after the pandemic compared to prior, it’s worth reporting.
You can file a complaint by calling Virginia’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-552-9963, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or printing and fill out a form on the OAG website: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumerprotection/files/PriceGougingComplaintFormOAG.pdf.
In North Carolina, Attorney General Josh Stein can go after price gouging offenders in civil court for up to $5,000.
To file a complaint with the state, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
North Carolina also offers an online form: https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/
In both states, when you file a complaint, be sure to include documents like receipts, contracts and pictures.