PRESS RELEASE: Attorney General Reyes Announces Partnership to Monitor and Combat Coronavirus Price Gouging

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and online marketplaces KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook are announcing a partnership aimed at monitoring and combating price gouging related to COVID-19. The Attorney General’s Office will partner with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and representatives from KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook to communicate regularly about consumer complaints and potential price gouging by third-party sellers on their online marketplaces. The companies will also provide market analysis and other aid to help identify individuals who are using the online marketplaces in Utah to spike prices on COVID-19-related items.

“We appreciate the proactive approach of KSL Classifieds, Amazon, Facebook and eBay during this crisis,” said Attorney General Reyes. “They came to us with possible price gouging offenders early in this pandemic. We have asked online companies to be vigilant about this issue and want to acknowledge those companies who have answered the call.”

“We are proud to announce a partnership with these companies to protect all Utah citizens from fraud and price gouging. Combating the virus, while ensuring that our people are safe and protected, is a total team effort,” said Attorney General Reyes. “With this partnership, those who engage in price gouging or scams should be warned that the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Protection are working with online marketplaces and will take action wherever possible to protect Utahns.”

“We take any kind of price gouging or potentially illegal activity very seriously on our marketplace,” said Eric Bright, Chief Marketing Officer of KSL Classifieds. “We’re constantly monitoring for suspicious activity and are proud to cooperate with the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Protection on egregious cases.”

With this partnership:

  • The lines of communication have been opened, and the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Protection will send consumer complaints related to online marketplace sellers in Utah directly to KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook for them to further investigate.
  • KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook are currently analyzing sales data to identify any bad actors in Utah who are trying to profiteer off the health and safety of Utah citizens. The companies will be sharing that information with the Division of Consumer Protection and the Utah Attorney General’s Office for potential legal action.

The companies have also proactively provided information to the Division of Consumer Protection about their current efforts to combat price gouging and profiteering on their site. While these online marketplaces do sell some products directly to the consumers, they also provide a forum for third-party sellers to sell products. There are certainly price fluctuations in times of crisis, and the vast majority of these sellers provide convenient and affordable products. But as with any third-party seller forum, there are isolated incidents where some try to profit off the fear and uncertainty that come with times of crisis.

KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook already have 24/7 monitoring measures in place to combat and remediate these situations, but in light of the coronavirus pandemic, they have enhanced their systems by including additional manual measures, pulling down products that are out of line, and suspending the accounts of those who are exhibiting repeated bad behavior.

As a result, KSL Classifieds, Amazon, eBay and Facebook together have removed hundreds of thousands of high-priced offers on in-demand supplies from its stores and millions of products that make unsupported claims about COVID-19. They have also suspended thousands of accounts of sellers who have engaged in price gouging.

Attorney General Reyes recently sent several consumer alerts relating to COVID-19 scams and medical supply chain price gouging.

Our friends at The Utah Division of Consumer Protection are on the front in this situation. The Utah Attorney General’s Office thanks them for their hard work on both price gouging and scams. They are working hard to investigate complaints. If you notice incidents of price gouging, please call their office at 801-530-6601 or 1-800-721-7233, or visit them online at consumerprotection.utah.gov.

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