Attorney General Mark Herring highlights price gouging protections ahead of Hurricane Joaquin

storm-clouds-headerAs Virginia prepares for a potential hurricane event, Governor McAuliffe’s declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia’s anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency.

Enacted in 2004, Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to: water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair materials and services, and tree removal services. A price is considered “unconscionable” if the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar item or services during the ten days prior to the state of emergency.

“First and foremost I encourage Virginians to prepare for this potentially significant storm and take all necessary precautions to stay safe,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “I also encourage Virginians to take note of prices while seeking goods and services during and after a declared state of emergency, and be weary of exceedingly large price hikes. Exploiting folks during and after natural disasters for financial gain is against the law and I won’t hesitate to take action against businesses that violate these protections.”

Violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Complaints should be reported for investigation to the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Section, with the exception of claims related to gasoline and motor fuel prices, which are handled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

If a consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging, they can call the Consumer Protection Hotline and download a complaint form from the Attorney General’s website and submit it in-person, by mail, by fax, or by sending a PDF to the following email address: consumer@oag.state.va.us.  Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint.

 

Online Complaint Form
www.ag.virginia.gov/consumercomplaintform/consumerComplaintForm.aspx

In-Person/By Mail  
Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, Consumer Protection Section
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219

By Phone
(800) 552-9963, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area

 

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