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Message from the Attorney General

In the days since both the President and the Governor declared a state of emergency due to the threat of Coronavirus, we have seen the indomitable spirit of the American people spring to life. Stories of neighbors shopping for neighbors who are in isolation. Clothing factories repurposing themselves to make medical masks and distilleries donating thousands of ounces of hand sanitizer manufactured in their barrels. It is precisely the inspiration we need right now.

Regrettably, we have also seen a few bad actors demonstrate the darker side of humanity, engaging in truly unconscionable acts that prey on people when they are most vulnerable. My consumer protection team has been fielding dozens of calls from consumers across the State over the past week about possible price gouging for critical items like water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.

 

To be fair, not all increased costs constitute price gouging and I am very sympathetic to the small businesses that have seen their margins shrink by increased wholesale costs. But, let me be clear: My office will not tolerate price gouging or any scams that take advantage of these circumstances. We have been sending cease and desist letters to offenders brought to our attention and will continue to do so and take any other appropriate actions to protect the people of Mississippi.

I am particularly troubled by the reports we have received of possible price gouging of items that hospitals, first responders, and other health care providers need to help keep themselves safe while caring for us and our loved ones. These are the men and women on the front lines in this battle. They put themselves at risk each and every day to nurse us back to health and we should be doing all we can to support them. The U.S. Department of Justice has established a Procurement Collusion Strike Force and is on high-alert for precisely this purpose. My office will work closely with them on any instances of price fixing, bid-rigging, market allocation schemes, or other anti-competitive conduct aimed at our health care providers.

If you experience what you think may be price gouging, please contact my office at webpage@ago.ms.gov, and include as much information as you can about the circumstances. If possible, take a picture of the price sign or item that is date- and time-stamped and send it with your inquiry. All of us at the Attorney General’s Office are here to help and protect you in this crisis. We will get through this together.

Disaster Assistance Available for Local Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Mississippi small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. Terms are determined on a case-by- case basis, but can run up to a maximum of 30 years to make payments more affordable.

 

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications by Clicking Here. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

Completed applications may also be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Beware of Scams

Whether it is fake emails and charities, "miracle" cures, or even robocalls, scammers are finding creative ways to profit off this period of uncertainty. Here are some quick tips to avoid becoming a victim of these scams:

  • DO NOT open any suspicious emails or texts. They may contain a dangerous electronic virus that can steal your personal information.
  • Before you donate to any charity, do your research. Be sure that it is a reputable company or organization and never feel pressured to pay via cash. Websites like BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator provide guidance and feedback on legitimate charities.
  • Scammers may call you directly or even set up a robocall, offering an instant cure for the Coronavirus. Hang up the phone immediately. If you press any buttons, scammers may have the ability to set you up for even more robocalls. To be added to the National Do Not Call Registry, click here.
  • Social Security numbers are a valuable form of personal identity. If you receive an unsolicited phone call regarding your personal information, hang up and report it at the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General or call (800) 269-0271.

 

 

The Federal Trade Commission is tracking multiple types of scams and has set up a special section on its website to provide you the latest information. To visit the site, Click Here.

Stay Connected With Us

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The State Department of Health released a list of all statewide testing locations for COVID-19 that became operational today. Click the link below for a list of sites.

Click Here for Coronavirus Testing Sites

I encourage you to follow me, and like my pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms. We are continually providing the most up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus Outbreak via social media.

 

Click on the social media logos below, and it will take you to my pages.

 

Or you can copy and paste the following hyperlinks into your web browser.

 

 


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