Watch Out for Price Gouging in Alex's Wake, Warns Cooper
Release date: 8/6/2004
Raleigh: As North Carolina residents and visitors deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Alex, Attorney General Roy Cooper today reminded businesses and consumers about North Carolina’s price gouging law.
“Most merchants pitch in to help their community recover following a natural disaster,” said Cooper. “However, there are some scammers who may try to take advantage of desperate times by charging outrageous prices to people when they can least afford it. That’s wrong, and its also illegal.”
Under a measure that became North Carolina law one year ago, businesses are prohibited from charging unreasonably excessive prices for goods and services during a declared state of emergency.
The law works to protect both consumers and legitimate merchants from unscrupulous scammers who seek to profit unfairly off disasters, Cooper said. The Attorney General’s Office is directed by the law to evaluate allegations of price gouging based on pre-disaster prices, taking into account any added costs sellers may face due to emergency conditions. A business that raises its prices for legitimate reasons will not be charged with price gouging under the law.
Under the law, Cooper can put a stop to price gouging and seek refunds for consumers who paid too much. The courts may also impose civil penalties against price gougers of up to $5,000 for each violation of the law.
Consumers who encounter possible price gouging or other unfair business practices should report the problem to Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division at 1 (877)-5-NO SCAM.
“This law makes it clear that we will not tolerate price gouging here in North Carolina,” said Cooper. “If you believe that someone is trying to charge you more than a fair price following a disaster, let my office know about it.”
NC Department of Justice � 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 � (919) 716-6400