Coronavirus leads Sen. Ed Markey to ask the FTC to stop the gouging and scams

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In the wake of price spikes for goods consumers are desperately seeking to fend off the coronavirus, a U.S. senator is urging the Federal Trade Commission to come up with a plan to stop the gouging and scams.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, sent a letter to the FTC on Tuesday. He wrote that while the FTC has warned the public about some scams, and is watching companies that claim to have unapproved treatments, “I remain worried that piecemeal efforts are insufficient in light of the magnitude of this crisis.”

“The FTC should not allow any consumer to suffer from a scam or predatory business practice during this public health emergency,” the letter continued. “That’s why I urge the FTC to immediately develop and deploy a comprehensive plan for protecting consumers during the coronavirus outbreak,”

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. se

In recent days, elevated prices for hand sanitizer, face masks and other products have appeared in online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, as shoppers stock up on critical supplies to deal with the novel coronavirus that has led to 27 deaths in the U.S. and sickened tens of thousands across the globe.

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Amazon.com previously told Markey in a letter that it had removed more than 530,000 product offers, sold by third parties, because of concerns about price gouging.

EBay also said it was prohibiting new U.S. listings for hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and surgical masks because they were being sold at unfairly high prices.

However, in the wake of that ban, new listings for such products were still appearing on eBay, including a a 50-pack of N95 masks selling for $250.

Markey wrote that he wants the FTC to let him know what actions it’s taken by March 24.

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