Task force taking on more than 100 price gouging complaints in Harris County

Harris County – Whether you’re grocery shopping or just picking up a few household necessities you might of noticed a demand for certain items.

"During this coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen an increase in cases such as hand sanitizer, Clorox, masks, we’ve also seen a rise in reports on eggs,” said Mimi Han, the managing attorney at the compliance practice group at the Harris County Attorney’s Office.

Han said once the Emergency Declaration was announced, the Attorney’s Office started up a task force to oversee price gouging in Harris County.

Han said the Task Force has received over 100 complaints from consumers. Consumers have also filed over 5,000 complaints with the Texas Attorney General’s Office

"Anything that’s over 25% we definitely take a very hard look at it,” Han said.

If it turns out that a business or retailer is violating the law there our consequences.

“If they choose not to correct, we will send them a cease and desist letter. We will also have the capability of filing lawsuits, once we file a lawsuit we will ask the court to enjoin them from doing business,” Han said.

Businesses could also face a $10,000 fine per violation and if the victim is a senior their could be an additional penalty of $250,000.

Han did point out that a price increase doesn’t always translate into price gouging.

A lot of supply chains have changed and we look into how their purchasing it on the whole sale end. If their providing us with that documentation it’s very helpful for us," Han said.

Anyone looking to file a complaint can do so at the Harris County Attorney’s Office or the Texas Attorney Generals Office.

Click here for more information.

Correction:The story has been corrected to indicate that the Harris County Attorney's Office is handling price-gouging claims in the county, not the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

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