Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office has activated its price gouging hotline as Hurricane Dorian continues to move toward Florida.
State of Florida law prohibits excessive increases in the prices of essential commodities in the event of an emergency such as food, water, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, hotel rooms, and more according to Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The price gouging hotline was activated as Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for counties in the direct path of the storm. The law applies within the area of the declared state of emergency, according to officials with Moody’s office.
If the price of an essential commodity represents a gross disparity from the average price charged 30 days before the declared state of emergency, or grossly exceeds the average market price for the area, then the price may be unlawful.
Before filing a price gouging complaint, try to gather as much information as safely
possible. Below are some tips to help consumers know what evidence to capture and
what to report:
- Take pictures of advertised prices, receipts, signs or price tags, and keep copies
of any estimates, invoices, receipts or bills;
- If time and security permit, it may be helpful to identify the pricing of the same
product sold by other sellers in the area;
- Compare products, noting similarities and differences, by recording the product
name, brand, size/quantity, manufacturer, model number and price. Take
pictures of the items if possible;
- Make a record of the name and address of the business or individual selling the
more expensive commodity and of any others whose prices are being compared;
- Retain Receipts of necessary items purchased from businesses you generally
frequent, as these may provide better context when determining if the price of the
item during a declared state of emergency represents a gross disparity from the
average price charged 30 days before the declaration;
- When renting a room, keep copies and make note of advertised pricing, booking
confirmations and final bill. Also note the type of room and booking method; and
- For lumber purchases, it is important to note the size, grade, thickness and
quality.Report price gouging information to the Florida Attorney General’s Office online at
MyFloridaLegal.com or by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226).
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Price gouging during a declared state of emergency can leave Floridians feeling defenseless and cause a sense of urgency for needed commodities. The stress caused by an approaching storm and its disruptive, and sometimes, devastating aftermath should not be further intensified by price gouging. It is our hope that this new app will assist us in raising awareness about price gouging laws and deter those who might otherwise consider violating the law, while at the same time help our consumer protection investigators get the reports and supporting information they need in real-time, so they can respond immediately to thwart any alleged illegal activity.”
Proving price gouging can be complex, so having direct evidence of pricing information is important to making a case of a violation under the price gouging statute.
The NO SCAM app makes it easy to supply this essential information often while you are still at the location where the alleged conduct is occurring.
The app will allow users in real-time to:
· Send pictures of prices on signs and products;
· Capture and report receipts;
· Write narratives of interactions with sellers of a good or commodity;
· Report evidence of prices of identical products by different sellers in the same vicinity; and
· Capture additional supporting documentation.
The Attorney General’s NO SCAM Price Gouging App can be downloaded for free through Apple and Android stores by searching NO SCAM.