July 1, 2020
LANSING – As Michigan continues to move through the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Dana Nessel remains steadfast in her commitment to protect consumers from businesses and retailers charging excessively high prices for products and warning people of scammers that could potentially steal their personal information.
Since COVID-19 concerns became known in Michigan in early March, Nessel’s office has received around 4,400 price-gouging complaints. Most complaints relate to grocery items, face masks and sanitizers.
Throughout the pandemic, Nessel’s office has taken multiple actions against both brick-and-mortar and online retailers seeking to take advantage of consumers during the public emergency. The rate at which consumer complaints of price-gouging being reported to the Attorney General’s office has appeared to slow down in recent weeks.
“This pandemic has proved to be an opportunity for bad actors to take advantage of people, and from the onset, I have been committed to protecting Michiganders and ensuring predatory businesses don’t exploit public fears during this time of uncertainty,” Nessel said. “My office has remained vigilant throughout this public health emergency in an effort to protect consumers, and we hope the decrease in the number of complaints being filed is a result of that hard work. We will continue to evaluate the many complaints reported to my office and take action on as many targets as possible.”
For the month of June, there was only an increase of about 2.6 percent in complaints filed with the office, from a total of 4,279 on June 1 to 4,391 on June 30. On May 1, the total was 3,756, while April 1’s total was 2,506. However, an undetermined number of duplicate complaints were discovered in late April that caused the total number to decrease as staffers removed them from the system.
While the rate at which complaints are filed appears to be decreasing, the total number of complaints received is substantially higher than last year. In 2019, the Attorney General’s office received a total of 80 price-gouging complaints. More than half of these were against either gas stations or propane suppliers.
Action to follow up on the complaints is taken when possible, though some of the complaints filed this year do not warrant further investigation and, unfortunately, many do not contain enough information to verify the complaints as legitimate.
As a result, consumers are encouraged to file a complaint online with the Attorney General’s office so that the complaint contains as much information as needed to properly evaluate a response.
Some of the actions the Attorney General’s office took to address price-gouging include the following:
In addition, Nessel’s office has worked to keep Michiganders aware of several scams arising from the COVID-19 pandemic through consumer alerts and other information, including:
The Attorney General’s office has also joined or led a number of multistate efforts to protect consumers across the country during the pandemic.
These are only a few of the actions Attorney General Nessel has taken to help Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to view more information on Nessel’s consumer protection efforts and other actions taken by the Attorney General.