Special agents assigned to Michigan price-gouging investigations


This photo illustration shows a bottle of hand sanitizer on March 5, 2020 in Washington,DC. – Amazon pledged on March 5, 2020 to take steps to fight price gouging after a US senator complained of “unjustifiably high prices” on hand sanitizers and surgical masks to protect against coronavirus infections. The US retail giant responded to a letter from Senator Ed Markey, who wrote that Amazon appeared to be profiting from panic buying related to the epidemic. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan officials have recently assigned a team of special agents to gather information related to price-gouging complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These highly trained criminal investigators will work with the Michigan Attorney General’s office will include looking into consumer complaints as well as assist with online research to compare pricing.

“Our objective is to make sure business owners are following the laws Michigan has in place to protect consumers, and public awareness of price-gouging can offer valuable support in our efforts to keep companies honest,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “If that can be accomplished without legal action, then that is a path we will pursue. But if stores continue to disregard the rules and raise their prices beyond justifiable amounts, then we will hold them accountable.”

The Attorney General’s office has so far received 1,417 price-gouging complaints including 585 written complaints received as of 7 a.m. today and 832 complaints received by phone as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

The office is also recognizing the help of consumers in policing the market by shaming gougers on social media as well as sharing their experiences and receipts with the Attorney General’s office.

Investigators visited stores and noticed that if there had been elevated prices, the situation had been corrected.

Consumers are urged to purchase what they need and to not buy in large amounts or at prices that are based on fear.

“Fear is a powerful motivator,” Nessel said. “But working together, we can stabilize both the prices and the levels of supplies on our grocery store shelves.”

Consumers can file a complaint online or call the Consumer Protection tip line at (877) 765 – 8388 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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