Washington AG investigating coronavirus-related price gouging

SEATTLE – As health officials identify more people in western Washington who have become infected with COVID-19, the state’s Attorney General announced the office is investigating instances of price gouging.

When coronavirus was found to be present in Puget Sound this week, people seeking basic food and medical items at brick-and-mortar stores shared images on social media showing normally stocked shelves had been depleted.

“My office is investigating price gouging in the wake of the COVID-19 public-health emergency,” read a statement issued by Attorney General Bob Ferguson office Wednesday. “We do not identify the targets of our investigations, but we are taking formal investigative actions.”

“We have something called the Consumer Protection Act which says you can’t engage in an unfair business practice. It’s our view, when there’s a public health crisis it’s an unfair business practice to jack up your prices 20-30% on a common item, which makes it essentially unaffordable for so many who need to it literally save their lives,” said Ferguson in an interview with Q13 News.

Earlier this week Amazon announced the company had removed more than 1 million products flagged for price gouging and falsely advertising their ability to protect against coronavirus.

Ferguson told Q13 News he would not name which companies were the target of investigations but revealed his office had received multiple reports of price gouging related to the outbreak in our region.

He added while the office continues its investigation, members of the public who fear they may have been overcharged for items like hand sanitizer and face masks should report evidence of price gouging online.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, click here