N95, KN95 masks in high demand, BBB warns of potential scams and price gouging as demand grows

Mask sold out
Posted at 6:26 AM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 07:21:26-05

(WXYZ) — Traffic was backed up at the Washtenaw County Health Department as people waited in line for a free 10 pack of KN95 face masks.

“There were cars coming from all different directions around the health department,” Ypsilanti resident Lauren Slagter said.

Slagter says she was one of the last people to grab a pack of the masks before the health department ran out.

“I’ve just been hearing a lot of recommendations that it is important to have the N95 or KN95 with the new variant,” she said.

The Washtenaw County Health Department says they were able to give out 12,000 adult-size masks. And the turnout out proves there is a serious demand with many folks being turned away.

“Certainly when there is a line for something and we don’t have enough to make it to the end of the line that can be difficult and frustrating,” public information officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department Susan Ringler Cerniglia said.

But with these masks being a hot ticket item, the Better Business Bureau wants to remind residents of scams.

“Anytime something like this pops up scams increase," Laura Blankenship of BBB Detroit said.

As masks continue to be the hot commodity, the BBB is reminding everyone to do their research before purchasing any masks online. They also suggest keeping an eye out for price gouging, a practice that is illegal in the state of Michigan.

The BBB says if you witness price gouging file a complaint so they can look into it.

“When there is a high demand for an item sometimes prices do need to increase, but when it’s increasing over 15 percent that’s when they are looking at whether or not its price gouging,” Blankenship said.

If you weren’t able to get a pack of masks on Thursday, the Washtenaw County Health Department is hosting another giveaway in Ann Arbor on Saturday.