Pandemic Price Gouging: AG’s office says they are ready to respond aggressively if needed

Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Responding to the novel coronavirus may look different than a hurricane or ice storm, but the North Carolina Attorney General says the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper does the exact same thing for him: engages the state’s price gouging law.

As of Wednesday, March 18, Attorney General Josh Stein’s office has received 136 complaints of price gouging from accross North Carolina.

The number one offending product: toilet paper, with 35 complaints about the personal product alone.

Stein says it is still early in the COVID-19 situation, and they expect there to be more reports of gouging as things progress.

“When we see them, we will act aggressively just like we did after Hurricane Florence and Michael, where we in Southeastern North Carolina went after a number of tree removal companies that were ripping people off unconscionably and we returned something like $750,000 to the people of Southeastern North Carolina," Stein said.

Brunswick County had one resident report gouging, and New Hanover County had three.

As far as vendors complained about, Brunswick had one, and New Hanover had four.

Pender, Columbus and Bladen Counties were clear of any gouging reports.

Stein said whenever there is anxiety or concern, unscrupulous business owners may try to take advantage.

To report an instance of price gouging, call 1-877-5-NOSCAM or fill out a report on the Attorney General’s office website.

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