Attorney General Pam Bondi today activated Florida’s price gouging hotline as Hurricane Matthew moves through the Caribbean. The opening of the hotline comes as Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency in all Florida counties in preparation for the potential impact of the category four hurricane.
“Hurricane Matthew has already caused deaths in the Caribbean, and while the storm may not make landfall in Florida, scammers may still use the threat of impact to prey on consumers. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should contact my office immediately,” Bondi said. “If you do business in our state, do not take advantage of our citizens.”
As the entire state of Florida is under a declared state of emergency, Florida’s price gouging law applies statewide. State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, ice, gas, hotels, lumber and water during this declared state of emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.
Specifically, F.S.S. 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease 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, unless the seller can justifying the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. For more information on price gouging, please click here.