AUGUSTA, Maine — In response to concerns about the potential for price gouging as Maine responds to COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills has issued a Declaration of Abnormal Market Disruption.
The declaration, drafted in close consultation with Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, prohibits certain necessities from being sold at unconscionable prices.
According to Gov. Mills Press Secretary Lindsay Crete, Maine law gives the Mills the authority to issue such a declaration to prevent “profiteering in necessities.” It comes as the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) receives allegations of price gouging and empowers the OAG to investigate these claims and take action, if necessary.
Governor Mills’ declaration specifies the necessities affected by the COVID-19 market disruption as:
- paper products
- cleaning supplies
- hand sanitizer
- personal hygiene products
- medicine and medical supplies
This declaration of abnormal market disruption includes both retail and wholesale sales. Under the order, these items will not be allowed to be sold to consumers at more than 15 percent the price these goods and services were sold immediately prior to the coronavirus disruption.
“The coronavirus is already making life difficult enough without bad actors trying to take advantage of Maine people by inflating prices for critical items,” Gov. Mills said in a statement. “With allegations of price-gouging in our state rising, this declaration gives the Office of the Attorney General full authority to investigate price gouging claims and take swift action to address them.”
“I appreciate Governor Mills making this important declaration to protect Maine citizens from having to pay unconscionable prices for necessary products,” Attorney General Frey said in a statement. “The Office of the Attorney General will continue to work with the Executive Branch and the Legislature to ensure that the public is protected during this crisis.”
Governor Mills and Attorney General Frey also urge Mainers to be mindful of the unfortunate reality that crises like this one are exploited by scammers sometimes. Consumers should not give their personal or financial information to individuals who contact them unexpectedly, and should carefully research offers of goods or services that are made to them, as these offers could be too good to be true.
Consumers who believe they have received an attempted scam or who have witnessed price gouging should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General.