Oklahoma AG enacts statute that makes coronavirus-related price gouging a crime

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Friday the creation of a statute that makes price gouging connected to COVID-19 illegal.

The statute follows President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration regarding the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release issued from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

Named the Emergency Price Stabilization Act, the price gouging statute prohibits an increase greater than 10 percent for the price of goods or services after a declared emergency.

“The statute automatically triggers after the issuance of a state or federal emergency declaration,” the news release states.

The statute empowers the Attorney General’s Office to pursue charges against any person or business who price gouges.

“Scam artists routinely prey on individuals’ emotions during times of fear and crisis,” Attorney General Hunter said. “I encourage Oklahomans to remain calm but cautious during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Don’t pay inflated prices for things like hand sanitizer, paper towels or other products and services that are becoming sparse. If anyone encounters price gouging, fraudulent charities or other crimes related to deceptive business practices, contact my office where we will not hesitate to prosecute in order to shut these operations down to protect our citizens.”

Complaints about price gouging can be made by contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, which you can do by either calling (405) 521-2029 or emailing consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov.

Here are some guidelines and information from the Attorney General’s Office on how to avoid coronavirus-related scams:

  • Avoid all offers for vaccines or other products specifically claiming to treat or cure COVID-19. The FDA has not yet approved any medical products or treatments for this virus;
  • Do not open emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or any other entity for which you have not personally subscribed to receive email updates;
  • Go directly to government websites, like the CDC, to review trusted updates. These organizations will never ask for personal log-in information or require a download to provide health materials from an email; and
  • Thoroughly research charities claiming to be assisting those affected by the Coronavirus. Reputable relief organizations will never require donations in cash, wire, transfers or gift cards. Do not be pressured into immediately paying, instead take time to confirm legitimacy.

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