OAG warns retailers against price gouging

Torres declares price freeze

Consumers should be aware—and unscrupulous retailers are warned—that it is illegal to engage in price gouging following a major disaster, according to a reminder from the Office of the Attorney General’s consumer counsel.

Typhoon Soudelor struck the Commonwealth on Aug. 2, 2015.

The Consumer Protection Act makes it unlawful for businesses to engage in price gouging. Price gouging occurs when a business increases prices based solely on a shortage of goods caused by a natural disaster or any other emergency. The Office of the Attorney General will prosecute, both criminally and civilly, any business that engages in price gouging.

Furthermore, the governor has declared a price freeze pursuant to the Consumer Disaster Price Freeze Act. The prices for the following items have been declared frozen:

1. Gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, natural gas, and all other chemical fuels, whether in gaseous, liquid, or solid form;

2. All foods and foodstuffs, including water, bottled water, beverages, and ice;

3. All clothing;

4. Flashlights, lamps, lanterns, candles, light bulbs, and other means of illumination;

5. Generators, cables, wires, electrical batteries of every sort, and similar equipment for the generation and/or transmission of electrical power;

6. All appliances used in the storage and/or preparation of food, including, but not limited to, stoves, barbecue grilles, ovens, refrigerators, and coolers;

7. Tools typically used for construction, ground clearing, or home repairs, whether electrically powered, chemically powered, or manual, including, but not limited to, saws, machetes, hammers, drills, shovels, rakes, and brooms.

8. All bedding items, including pillows, futons and blankets.

It is illegal for any person or business to raise the price of any of the above-listed items while a price freeze is in effect. A violation of the Consumer Disaster Price Freeze Act is punishable by a $10,000 fine and one month of imprisonment for each violation. Please contact the Office of the Attorney General at 237-7500 if you observe price gouging. If the phone is not being answered, then please leave a message describing the price gouging and the retailer responsible. Alternatively, call the Emergency Management Center at 237-8000. (Office of the Attorney General)

Press Release
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