Emergency rule makes price gouging illegal

Tara Michel | 3/18/2020, 9:29 a.m.
New Yorkers are anxious about the virus which is leading to a short supply of goods and price gouging.
Store/shopping Cyril Josh Barker photo

The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has an emergency rule in effect under the City’s Consumer Protection Law that makes price gouging illegal for any item needed to prevent and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas announced that the agency promulgated the rule (NYC Administrative Code 20-701(b)). The rule is effective immediately (March 16, 2020) and makes it illegal to increase prices by 10% or more.

New Yorkers are anxious about the virus which is leading to a short supply of goods and price gouging. People are anxious and standing in long lines to clear out shelves of hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper.

“Now is the time for us to come together, not take advantage of each other for a profit. But we continue to hear about and see empty shelves and price gouging,” said Commissioner Salas. “We are using every tool in our toolbox to protect New Yorkers from price gouging during this public health emergency and I encourage consumers to file a complaint if they are overcharged.”

New Yorkers observed numerous items in short supply and sold at a high price. Stores cannot increase the price they charge you for any item needed for the virus. Including cleaning products, liquids, sprays, face masks, gloves, medicine, paper towels, rubbing alcohol, soap, and tissue. DCWP has received more than 1,000 complaints about price gouging since March 5 and issued more than 550 violations for price gouging.

DCWP protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP is actively inspecting stores based on consumer complaints. Businesses found to be overcharging consumers 10% or more will be issued a violation. The fine for price gouging is up to $500 per item. A complaint can be filed at nyc.gov/dcwp or call 311.