RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Riverside County residents can now call a consumer protection hotline to report businesses that are price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both the state and county prohibit price gouging during a state of emergency, which stops businesses from raising their prices in excess of 10 percent on essential goods and services, including food, fuel and shelter.

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District Attorney Mike Hestrin released a statement last week vowing to protect “the public and consumers during this health crisis.” 

Any form of price gouging is a potential misdemeanor offense, he said.

“Those who price gouge are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a sentence of up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $10,000,” according to a D.A.’s statement. “There also can be civil penalties, including a fine of $5,000 per violation, restitution to the victim or victims and a court order to stop.”

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No merchants within the county have been charged yet in the current state of emergency.

The hotline, set up by the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, allows residents to file complaints if they believe a business is engaged in price gouging during the state of emergency.

To file a complaint, call 951-955-0764 or visit this link.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency on March 4. About a week later, President Trump proclaimed a national emergency.

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