PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS, NJ – A township business failed to put prices on items, a violation of the state’s Merchandise Pricing Statute, and was one of four in New Jersey fined $500 by the state in a concerted effort to protect consumers during the ongoing pandemic, said state officials.

The business, News Plus on Baldwin Road, was assessed the fine after receiving a notice of violation, said the state Attorney General’s Office. It said News Plus and three other businesses received the penalties “for their alleged failure to post selling prices for merchandise such as bottled water, toilet paper and sanitizers.”

The announcement was part of a press release from the Attorney General’s Office that discussed the state’s focus on enforcement of consumer protection measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Consumers who suspect consumer fraud violations, or believe that businesses have unfairly increased their prices in response to COVID-19, are encouraged to file complaints online to report specific details related to the increased prices,” said the statement. “Photographs of items being sold, their price, and receipts can now be uploaded to our new price gouging complaint form.”

In the statement, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced actions against a dozen merchants for consumer protection violations related to COVID-19, with penalties totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

“Among those subject to enforcement actions are two North Jersey businesses that allegedly made false or unsubstantiated claims in the sale of COVID-19 antibody tests and a Monmouth County business that was selling face masks at as much as six times the manufacturer’s retail prices,” said the statement.

“To date, the Division has sent 1,884 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic, and issued 110 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act,” said Grewal’s office.

The Notices of Violation (NOVs) filed in this latest round of enforcement actions carry individual penalties ranging from $500 to $12,500, depending on the severity and number of violations, said the state.  

“The Division is working tirelessly during this pandemic to protect consumers from threats to their health in the form of unsubstantiated claims and predatory pricing on personal protective equipment,” said Acting Director Paul Rodríguez. “We are committed to reviewing and investigating every complaint to ensure that merchants operate responsibly and refrain from unscrupulous behaviors, including violating our price gouging laws, at a time when many New Jerseyans are facing significant financial hardship.