(Sacramento, CA) – Today, Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) released the following statement following recent reports in Orange and Los Angeles Counties of price gouging during the statewide public health emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in California. Senator Umberg reminds all Californians that, under California Penal Code Section 396, price gouging is illegal and punishable by law in all California communities during the declared state of emergency.
“Already, I have seen a number of cases of dramatically increased prices on goods like milk, cereal, cleaning materials and feminine hygiene products in my district (pictures attached). We cannot tolerate while those seeking to exploit an emergency for personal gains by taking advantage of their fellow Californians in a time of crisis,” said Senator Umberg. “There are clear-cut laws to defend our neighbors against price gouging, and we will enforce those laws to ensure that the many in need of supplies for themselves or their families are not left wanting.”
Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by greatly increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services. California’s anti-price gouging statute prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared. Local laws may also contain their own prohibitions on price gouging. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution.
“It is critical that the people of California are protected from those that prey on our community during the trying times of a national, and global, emergency,” said Senator Umberg. “We will work aggressively to prevent any scams that attempt to defraud disaster victims, and I encourage anyone who has been the recent victim of price gouging, or has information regarding price gouging, to immediately contact our District Office. We will work in concert with our Orange County Delegation partners, the Orange County District Attorney, and the State Attorney General to find justice for the people in our community.”
To contact Senator Umberg’s District Office regarding any incidents of recent price gouging, please call (714) 558-3785.