There are always people who look to profit from emergency situations.
Read more: 11 frugal ways to prepare for an emergency
The Florida Attorney General’s Office has information on price gouging during a state of emergency and how residents can protect themselves ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s landfall, while
Price gouging is selling essential commodities, dwelling units or self-storage facilities “for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency,” the Attorney General’s Office said.Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all of Florida Monday in preparation for the hurricane.
Price gouging is selling essential commodities, dwelling units or self-storage facilities “for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency,” the Attorney General’s Office said.
Essential commodities include food, ice, gas and lumber, the office said.
Non-essential items, including alcohol and cigarettes, are not covered under Florida price-gouging statutes.
‘Florida consumers need to be diligent during this state of emergency to ensure they do not become victims of price gouging,’ Attorney General Pam Bondi said. ‘Taking advantage of consumers during a declared state of emergency is not only reprehensible, it is illegal and will not be tolerated.’
Those found in violation of Florida price gouging statutes can be fined $1,000 per violation and up to $25,000 for multiple violations during the same 24-hour period.
To avoid being a victim of price gouging during an emergency, the Attorney General’s Office recommends being prepared ahead of time.
How to be prepared to avoid price gouging
To help avoid price gouging, have the following items on hand:
- 5 gallons of drinking water per person in your household
- At least two working flashlights
- A portable radio
- A telephone with a cord. If the electrical power is lost, a cordless telephone will not work
- An ample supply of batteries to power those and other items
- A full tank of propane and charcoal if you have a charcoal grill
- Non-perishable food items
- Formula and diapers, if you have young children in the home
Though not essential, board games, books and playing cards are also recommended to pass the time during a storm or other emergency, the office said.
Residents who believe that they have been the victim of price gouging can call the Attorney General’s price gouging hotline at 866-966-7226 or visit myfloridalegal.com.