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Virginians reminded of state’s price-gouging statutes during emergency events

Rebecca Barnabi
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Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s declaration of a state of emergency in Virginia last week ahead of Tropical Storm Ophelia triggered the Commonwealth’s anti-price gouging statutes.

The statutes are designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency event.

“Virginia’s anti-price gouging statutes exist to protect Virginians during a time of crisis from being taken advantage of by bad actors,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said. “Any violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act or exploitation of Virginians’ wallets will be thoroughly prosecuted by my office based on the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.”

Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act was enacted in 2004 and 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 include, but are not limited to, water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair materials and services and tree removal services. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.

Violations of the statutes 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.

Consumers can contact Attorney General Miyares’ Consumer Protection Section for additional information or to file a complaint by phone, call 800-552-9963, by email: [email protected] or complete an online complaint form. More information can be found online.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.