Kemp Declares State of Emergency for Coronavirus Outbreak, Invokes Price Gouging Statute

March 14, 2020

ATLANTA, GA - The State of Georgia’s Price Gouging Statutes were activated upon Governor Brian Kemp’s signing the State of Emergency declaration on March 14, 2020 at 10:15 a.m. 

“Those who commit price gouging during this pandemic are not only being exploitive, they are interfering with consumers’ ability to obtain products that could help protect them from becoming ill or spreading the virus,” said Attorney General Chris Carr, “Our office will not tolerate this and will hold them accountable.” 

While the State of Emergency remains in effect, businesses may not charge more for products and services identified by the Governor than they charged before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the increased prices accurately reflect an increase in the cost of new stock or the cost to transport it, plus the retailer's average markup percentage applied during the ten days immediately prior to the declaration of the state of emergency. Under the Price Gouging Statutes, the Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division receives and evaluates reports related to a rise in the costs of goods and services after the declaration is made. 

Violators of the Price Gouging Statutes may be fined up to $5,000 per violation. To report violations, consumers should call 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123 (outside metro Atlanta) or complete the online complaint form on the Consumer Protection Division’s website (consumer.ga.gov). 

Businesses looking for additional information about compliance with the Price Gouging Statutes can visit the Consumer Protection Division’s web site at consumer.ga.gov, go to the “Business Services” tab and then click on “Emergency Price Controls.”

Attorney General Carr is also advising Georgia consumers to follow these tips so as not to fall victim to a Coronavirus-related scam:

• Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia Department of Public Health, and World Health Organization.

• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up-to-date.

• Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?

• Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

• Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure Coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.