LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is reminding consumers to be aware of potential price gouging on healthcare products and other goods and services following Governor Asa Hutchinson’s public health emergency declaration. The announcement was made Wednesday morning after the first presumptive coronavirus case in Arkansas was detected in Pine Bluff.
“Price gouging is illegal, and I will hold bad actors accountable who take advantage of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unfortunately during a time of uncertainty and worry, consumers must be diligent and report businesses charging prices for items that are beyond legal limits.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to avoid price gouging:
- Know the average price for goods like hand sanitizer, soap and non-perishable food items before purchasing. If it seems too high, ask questions.
- Avoid high-pressure sales tactics to purchase items that claim to keep you healthy.
- When possible, deal with established, reputable businesses in the community.
- Stay updated on the latest risks, warnings and prevention tactics at CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
The price gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, state or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days on goods and services related to the emergency and can be extended another 30 days by the governing body, if needed. The scope of the law is broad and is intended to cover anything that may be needed in the event of a state of emergency.
Arkansas’s price gouging law prohibits businesses from excessive and unjustified increases in the prices charged for essential goods and services during an emergency. Businesses may lawfully charge a higher price if they can establish that the higher price is directly attributable to additional costs incurred by the retailer, its supplier or as the result of additional costs for labor or materials.
For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.