Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, is cautioning Iowans to be on the lookout for price gouging and other scams related to the Covid-19 virus. After an emergency declaration from Iowa Gov., Kim Reynolds, on Monday, the state’s price-gouging rule was triggered. “Price gouging is substantially raising prices for needed goods and services,” Miller says. “This is illegal and is something our office will pursue.” The definition in the Attorney General’s Administrative Rule is an unreasonable raising of prices above what the merchandise or service would have sold for in the usual course of business prior to the onset of the emergency. The rule not only applies during the emergency, but for a subsequent recovery period of up to six months after. However, the rule does recognize that some prices may be higher because the seller may incur increased costs. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has already been in contact with Amazon, where high prices for hand sanitizer, protective masks and other products have been reported. Amazon says it has removed several products and high-priced offers and suspended the accounts of third-party sellers who have engaged in price gouging. Miller is also cautioning Iowa residents to be wary of scammers who prey on the fear of the coronavirus in other ways, including selling bogus products and engaging in scams related to phishing, charity solicitations and investment offers. Details and contact information to report issues can be found below.
To seek help
Consumers should contact the Consumer Protection Division if they have consumer complaints about price gouging:
Phone: 515-281-5926 (toll-free number outside of the Des Moines area: 888-777-4590)
For up-to-date information on COVID-19, see the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health websites.