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Businesses and shoppers urged to be mindful of price gouging

"Consumers are going to remember"
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Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 17:02:06-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you are headed back to the stores this weekend hoping to stock up on germ killing supplies, toilet paper, or even food for the pantry, you'll want to pay close attention to the prices. Investigative Reporter Patrick Nelson shows us why price gouging has become a worldwide concern and what we can do to protect our money.

Many of us are having to make tough money decisions for our families right now as we agree to stay home during Coronavirus concerns. This is why the Colorado Attorney General says it is so important for us to monitor prices of crucial items and to report any instances of unfair pricing.

"There is something outside of normal supply and demand, extreme price gouging. People who might seek to take advantage of desperate consumers in situations where it is their public health on the line," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Consumer protection investigators need our help to make sure people selling crucial items during these Coronavirus concerns are pricing them fairly, both in stores and online.

News5 Chief Investigator Eric Ross was able to flag hand sanitizer and other groceries being sold online at well above average retail prices.

"Sometimes as you note, it's being sold on Amazon which has terms of service that would address this. Other times we have legal authority and we can look into whether or not it is relevant here. Because if people are going to prey on others taking advantage outside of normal supply and demand that's something we want to look into," said Weiser.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado is warning local businesses about just how vulnerable consumers are right now.

"Consumers are scared and there are some situations where they may pay that ten times more for toilet paper if they feel like it's their last chance to get it," said Adah Rodriguez spokesperson for the BBB of Southern Colorado.

Businesses are being warned that making an extra few bucks off the back of struggling consumers now, could cost them in the long-run.

"Consumers are going to remember. So after this is all over they are going to remember what businesses tried to take advantage of them and which ones didn't and that marketplace trust is critical," said Rodriguez.

To report fraud, scams, and even price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General's Office call 800-222-4444 or visit stopfraudcolorado.gov