Attorney General Ashley Moody activated a price gouging hotline amid consumer concerns about sanitary products.
She said the fact that Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency regarding the spread of the coronavirus allows her to open the hotline for essential commodities.
“We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Florida very closely and following the Governor’s state of emergency declaration, our price gouging laws are now in effect,” Moody said.
“I have a rapid response team ready to immediately respond to allegations of price gouging and our Consumer Protection Division continues to look for scams by fraudsters who would use this situation to rip-off Floridians.”
The hotline will take calls on specific items in high demand, including protective face masks and sanitizing products including hand sanitizer, wipes, cleaning supplies for surface cleaning, and all commercial cleaning supplies.
The move comes as Amazon and others see third-party sellers hocking hand sanitizer for hefty prices.
Moody noted that consumers concerned about the coronavirus should focus on guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control.
“Be on the lookout for scams and guard against gouging,” she said, “but remember, the best thing you can do right now is heed the advice of health experts—wash hands regularly and stay home if you are ill.”
Those caught price gouging are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation. Offenses can reach up to $25,000 for multiple offenses in a 24-hour period.
To date, two Florida residents have died from coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health. Another 12 residents, as well as one out-of-state resident, have tested positive for the virus in the state. Another five individuals tested positive elsewhere have been repatriated to Florida.