Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is warning consumers of potential scams related to COVID-19 or the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. During and in the wake of any natural disaster or health crisis, scammers may try to take advantage of the stress and rush to stock up on supplies.
Missouri law prohibits individuals and businesses from substantially raising their prices for the necessities of life during an emergency. Consumers need to be aware of products that see a large increase in prices. In most cases, price gouging is typically relegated to gas, water, and food, but in this case, consumers should also watch for substantial price increases on hand sanitizer, medical masks, soap, over the counter medicine, and other necessities.
While there haven’t been any specific complaints made to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office relating to price gouging as of yet, it is still something consumers should watch out for and report.
Additionally, consumers need to be aware of phishing attempts or other online scams relating to COVID-19. For example, emails purporting to be from the Center for Disease Control’s Health Alert Network were actually phishing attempts to gain access to personal information. According to a Norton alert, “a phishing email that used the logo of the CDC Health Alert Network claimed to provide a list of local active infections. Recipients were instructed to click on a link in the email to access the list. Next, recipients were asked to enter their email login credentials, which were then stolen.”
When receiving emails about COVID-19 or accessing information about the virus online, be sure that the website you’re visiting or the email you’re clicking on is a reputable, legitimate source for information. If it looks fishy, it most likely is.
For other questions and reputable information relating to COVID-19, please visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ website.
Please report any and all instances of price gouging or other COVID-19 related scams to the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 1-800-392-8222 or by filing a complaint online.