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Vermont AG Warns Of Coronavirus Price Gouging, Hoarding & Scams

A sign in a drug store listing all the items out of stock during coronavirus shopping
Anna Ste. Marie
A Colchester CVS shows signs of panic buying and depleted stocks of essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan says his office is seeing a rise in scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some scams are promising remedies to the virus (which has no verified cure or vaccine), while others claim to be collecting money for bogus charities. But Donovan says consumer protection questions like price-gouging are also a concern.

What kind of scams are happening in Vermont?

Donovan said the big three are fake charities, miracle cures and selling medical equipment. He also expects to see some sort of employer-asking-for-money scam, but has not seen it yet. 

How can someone avoid falling for these scams?

Donovan stressed for everyone to do their due diligence. Legitimate charities are listed on the Vermont Secretary of State website or can also be found at

What is the AG's office getting the most calls about?

Price markups seem to be the largest concern of Vermonters, Donovan said. There is a general consumer protection statute that doesn’t allow unfair prices for consumers. Donovan said his office is reaching out to stores that Vermonters have complained about to make sure the markups are reasonable. 

Can the AG's office do anything about hoarding?

Legally, Donovan isn’t sure if there is any law that would prevent hoarding. States have struggled to reign in third-party retailers online selling products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer at extremely high prices.

Vermonters can report price gouging directly to the Attorney General's consumer assistance office by email or call 1-800-649-2424

Broadcast live on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020 from 12-1 p.m.; rebroadcast from 7-8 p.m.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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