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Consumers need to watch out for price gouging and cyberattacks as the war in Ukraine rages on

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Due to the war in Ukraine, consumers in the United States could experience impacts. They should be on the lookout for potential price gouging of fuel and other goods and services. And consumers should be aware that there may be cyberattacks.

How to spot price gouging

  • Extraordinarily high prices: Businesses are allowed to increase prices for critical supplies during an emergency, but they’re not allowed to raise the price of products excessively. While laws vary by state, increases over 20 percent may be considered price gouging.
  • Price comparison between similar products: Some state laws prohibit significant increases in prices as compared to other products. For example, if one product is priced at double the cost of similar products, that may violate price gouging laws. In addition, watch for inflated prices at the gas pump.
  • Err on the side of caution: If you aren’t sure whether a product is priced too high, report problem items to the company and the Attorney General’s Office in your state.

How to report price gouging

Report any potential price gouging to your state attorney general. You’ll need:

  • The name of the store/vendor where you saw the item and its address. 
  • Product details, including, but not limited to, the product type, brand, size, and price
  • The date, time, and location you saw the product.
  • A picture of the item, if possible.

“This is a moment of national solidarity – not an excuse for giant corporations to price gouge at the gas pump,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Twitter.

For contact information for the attorney general in your state, check this list.

Cybersecurity tips

While there’s currently no active cybersecurity alert, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is encouraging consumers to ensure they’re taking protective measures.

New York Attorney General Letitia James recommends the following steps for consumers to safeguard their online accounts against cybersecurity threats: 

  • Protect your passwords: Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords, and never reuse passwords. While reusing login information may be convenient, it can also put your information at risk. A password manager on your phone, computer, or browser can help you generate strong passwords and automatically fill them in when you log in to a website or an app. Password managers can also check if your passwords have been stolen in a data breach. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication can provide an extra layer of security by requiring anyone logging in to an account to provide another credential, such as a one-time code sent by SMS or email. Most attackers that have access to a stolen password won’t have access to a secondary credential. If a website or app offers two-factor authentication, make sure to enable it for your account. 
  • Watch out for online scams: Scammers may email, text, or call to trick you into clicking a link, sharing your personal information, or sending money or gift cards. These scammers may pretend to be familiar companies, the government, or someone you know. Make sure you double check the email address or phone number contacting you to see if it’s legitimate. Instead of responding to an email or text from a company, go to the company’s website and call the customer service number listed. Also, be careful about publicly sharing your information, such as on social media. 
  • Check regularly for unauthorized activity: Not all companies will notify users when their online accounts have been compromised. You should regularly check your online accounts for unauthorized transactions and activity, and immediately contact the service – and credit card company, if appropriate – if you see something suspicious. 
  • Run antivirus software regularly: Computer viruses can run in the background without you knowing, so run antivirus software regularly to identify and address unknown threats. 
  • Update your software: Software updates often include important security updates, so make sure you are using the most up-to-date software and applications on all your devices.
  • Sign up for breach notifications: You should consider registering with a breach notification service, such as Have I Been Pwned, that will send a notification if an account associated with your email or phone number has been compromised. 
  • Take suspicious activity seriously: If an online service notifies you of suspicious activity on your account, change your password immediately. If you use the same password for other accounts, change the passwords for those accounts as well. 

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