Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) serves as more than a typical store. It's also a marketplace where third-party merchants sell their own goods.

That's usually a big plus for the online retailer, as it allows the company to offer an increased range of merchandise. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, some third-party sellers have tried to take advantage of the situation by charging extremely high prices, while others have peddled wares that may not be what they say they are.

Amazon has been trying to take actions to prevent this from happening. CEO Jeff Bezos laid out his company's efforts to protect consumers in an open letter to shareholders.

A woman works in an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon has increased its efforts to stop price gouging. Image source: Amazon.

What steps is Amazon taking?

Bezos was very direct in his letter. He explained the problem and laid out what the company has done to address the situation.

"Amazon is acting aggressively to protect our customers from bad actors looking to exploit the crisis," he wrote. "We've removed over half a million offers from our stores due to COVID-based price gouging, and we've suspended more than 6,000 selling accounts globally for violating our fair-pricing policies."

The online retailer has also taken ever more aggressive steps to make sure these practices don't happen on its platform.

"Amazon turned over information about sellers we suspect engaged in price gouging of products related to COVID-19 to 42 state attorneys general offices," Bezos wrote. "To accelerate our response to price-gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us."

Be very wary

Amazon probably can't stop every instance of price gouging on its platform. That means as a consumer it's important to be wary. Don't overpay for hand sanitizer or masks -- you may not get what you're expecting.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.