NJ AG warns of price gouging and fraud involving infant formula

On Thursday, New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin clarified what the state of emergency Governor Phil Murphy declared on Tuesday due to an ongoing shortage of baby formula means for merchants who may want to increase their profits with this coveted and essential item.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office said Murphy’s order enforces the state’s predatory pricing law, prohibiting for the duration of the state of emergency and 30 days after any price increase greater than 10 % of what the price was before the emergency.

The OAG said the state Consumer Affairs Division has received “approximately” 16 consumer complaints about the infant formula price hike to date, about half of them in less than three days since publication of the decree.

Each individual sale is considered a separate violation, according to the OAG. A first offense carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000, with the fine increasing to $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.

Violators may also be subject to the payment of restitution to consumers, as well as attorney and investigation fees, according to the statement.

The OAG said specific scams to watch out for include offering or selling expired infant formula, or any transaction that requires a wire transfer.

As the state Poison Control Center also suggested earlier Thursday, parents should consult with their baby’s pediatrician before changing the formula.

The spike in infant formula prices in New Jersey may be flagged by complete an online form, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to request a complaint form by mail.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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