CHICAGO — Illinois consumers have filed more than 700 price gouging complaints accusing stores of raising prices on household goods during the rush to stock up because of the new coronavirus.
State investigators who are working from home because of the coronavirus are conducting phone interviews with consumers who file price gouging complaints with the Illinois attorney general’s office, said Tori Joseph, a spokeswoman for that agency.
“We are handling these using our authority under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. We are contacting businesses directly — some businesses say they have only increased prices in response to suppliers increasing prices. We ask for information on suppliers so that we can follow up with those entities. We have not taken any enforcement actions to date,” Joseph said in an emailed statement.
In Illinois, the price gouging law only applies to petroleum and fuel products. But Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order March 16 that extends the state’s authority to police price hikes on household products and medical supplies.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office announced last week it will look into complaints regarding the price of essential medical supplies, including protective gear, and other products like toilet paper and food.
State investigators also are monitoring products on websites like Amazon, eBay and Facebook, and the department is contacting companies regarding ads or offers that may be misleading.
The city of Chicago received 175 price gouging complaints between March 1 and Monday. The state received 526 complaints during the same period..
Most of the complaints filed with the city involved toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but a few also cited price increases on food and beverage products, said Isaac Reichman, a spokesman for the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department.
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