County of Monmouth

March 11, 2020

Monmouth County Consumer Affairs warns residents to be mindful of price gouging

FREEHOLD, NJ –The Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs serves multiple functions, including enforcement of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1, et seq. During a declared State of Emergency, the State and county-level Divisions of Consumer Affairs protect against “price gouging.” (See N.J.S.A. 56:8-107, 108 and 109.)

According to the statute, “While the pricing of merchandise is generally best left to the marketplace under ordinary conditions, when a declared state of emergency results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified price increases in the sale of certain merchandise be prohibited.”

“Excessive price increases” means a price is excessive as compared to the price at which the goods or services were sold in the usual course of business immediately prior to the state of emergency. In simplest terms, price increases by more than 10% are not allowed.

Consumers who find items such as masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, even water bottles, etc., that appear to have been increased to the point of “price gouging” can report these incidents to the Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs.

“Monmouth County is dedicated to protecting our citizens, and price gouging won’t be tolerated. While businesses are entitled to make a profit, taking advantage of people in times of emergency is unacceptable and will be prosecuted,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County Division.

The public is reminded that while the COVID-19 virus is to be taken seriously, there is no reason to stockpile and hoard items, thus creating an artificial buying panic.

“We understand that people are rightfully concerned of the unknown,” said Freeholders Director, Thomas A. Arnone, “but residents need to use common sense and remain calm. And if you see an example of price gouging, call 732-431-7900, or file a complaint online at The Division of Consumer Affairs is here to help.”

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