District Attorney Mike Hestrin warns all business owners and those who provide services to the public that price gouging will not be tolerated during the current state of emergency due to the COVID-19 coronavirus health crisis.

“The District Attorney’s Office will be vigilant in protecting the public and consumers during this health crisis,” Hestrin said in a prepared statement.

Price gouging is illegal and happens when an unscrupulous person or business tries to take advantage of consumers by raising prices more than 10 percent for essential goods or services during a declared state of emergency. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency statewide on March 4, 2020.

Essential goods and services include, but are not limited to, such things as food, water, food and water for pets, flashlights, medicine, sanitary products, toiletries, diapers, medical or emergency supplies, and lodging.

Those who price gouge are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a sentence of up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $10,000. There also can be civil penalties including a fine of $5,000 per violation, restitution to the victim or victims, and a court order to stop.

More information can be found in a whiteboard video on the DA’s Facebook page by clicking here.

If you suspect a business or person of price gouging, you can submit a complaint form found on the DA’s website by clicking here   or at the state Attorney General’s Office website by clicking here.

Image Sources

  • Paying for toilet paper: Shutterstock