With the Governor declaring a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Harvey making landfall, Attorney General Jeff Landry encourages Louisiana consumers to be conscious of price gouging.
“It is an unfortunate reality that some people and businesses attempt to take advantage of consumers during and after natural disasters,” said General Landry. “I strongly encourage consumers who suspect price gouging to contact their local law enforcement agencies."
Price gouging is defined as the increase in prices or value for goods and services that are higher than the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods and services at or immediately before the time of a state of emergency. Once a state of emergency is declared by the governor or parish president, a price gouging ban is placed on the area declared to be under the state of emergency. The ban may remain in effect for up to 30 days after the state of emergency ends.
In addition to civil penalties and restitutions for consumers, a violation of the price gouging statute is a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to $500.00, 6 months imprisonment, or both; imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 5 years where there is any serious bodily injury or any property damage in excess of $5,000.00; and imprisonment at hard labor for not more than 21 years where a willful violation results in the death of any person.
It is important to note that price gouging is not attributable to verifiable market fluctuations and usually involves gasoline, hotels, and generators. When reporting price gouging, be sure to include as much information as possible including: the name and address of the merchant, the price and receipt of the item or service, and your name, address, and phone number so you may be reached if further information is needed.
If you suspect price gouging, please report it to your local law enforcement agency. For more information on price gouging or tips for victims of natural disasters, contact Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Consumer Protection Section at 800-351-4889 or www.agjefflandry.com.