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San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office
Consumer ALERT

March 5, 2020

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)-RELATED PRICE GOUGING

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a Proclamation of a State of Emergency on 3/4/20, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus.  The text of the proclamation can be found on the Office of Governor website https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/04/governor-newsom-declares-state-of-emergency-to-help-state-prepare-for-broader-spread-of-covid-19/

As a result of this public health emergency, reports of elevated prices, or “price gouging,” have been reported in California and across the country.   California Penal Code Section 396 states “when a declared state of emergency or local emergency results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified increases in the prices of essential consumer goods and services be prohibited.”  In general, price gouging occurs when prices increase more than 10% than the price charged before the emergency declaration.  These goods and services can include a wide variety of essentials, from hand sanitizer, masks, water, food, gasoline, to infant formula, diapers, batteries... anything on which residents of San Joaquin County would need to depend on in the event of a prolonged emergency.  Where price gouging is observed, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who prey upon the residents of our county to the fullest extent of the law. 

Anyone who suspects price gouging is occurring in our community is advised to complete a Complaint Form and/or call the San Joaquin County District Attorney Consumer Fraud hotline at (209) 953-7730.

For more information on COVID-19 
and how to protect yourself,
go to the
Office of Emergency Services' COVID-19 information page.