Over 300 complaints have come into the Texas AG’s office of price gouging related to the coronavirus crisis.
Dallas morning news reports the Texas Attorney General’s office has received at least 348 complaints of price gouging related to the coronavirus pandemic, mostly stemming from the Dallas and Houston areas, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The supplies drawing most complaints include toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitizer, which have been in short supply since the virus began spreading in the United States. Vendors accused in the complaints of price gouging have not yet been publicly named.
Once the governor declares a disaster, as he did last week, it becomes illegal in Texas to sell necessities for an exorbitant price.
The Attorney General’s office has authority to prosecute businesses accused of price gouging, though it’s not clear whether the office has taken any action yet. The Consumer Protection Division is currently evaluating complaints, said Kayleigh Date, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Those found to have gouged prices in Texas may be required to reimburse consumers and can face civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. Fines jump to $250,000 if the affected consumers are elderly, Date said.
Other cities and states have already begun to crack down. New York City has issued $275,000 in fines related to price gouging of face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
Tennessee brothers who had been selling hand sanitizer on Amazon at a markup donated their remaining stockpile as the state’s attorney general began investigating the pair, according to the New York Times.
Those who want to report potential price gouging in Texas can do so online or by calling the consumer protection hotline at 800-621-0508.