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Shoppers encouraged to report price gouging during state of emergency

Posted at 11:29 PM, Sep 29, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- All eyes are on Hurricane Ian, but there's one thing that shoppers can keep in mind while stocking up on essential items: price gouging.

Governor Glenn Youngkin's declaration of a state of emergency trigged Virginia's anti-price gouging statutes that protect shoppers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency.

“During a state of emergency, suppliers cannot set unconscionable prices for items where demand might increase because of the state of emergency," Victoria LaCivita, a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office, said. "So, for example, if a water bottle was $3 last week, now it can’t be $6, because people are buying more of it.”

LaCivita said a good way to determine if price gouging is happening is if the current price of an item is higher than it was 10 days immediately before the emergency.

“A basic test to use is, is this item more expensive, significantly more expensive, 10 days before the state of emergency is called?” LaCivita said.

Any violations of Virginian's Anti-Price Gouging Act or exploitation of Virginians' wallets will be prosecuted through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by the Attorney General's office.

Virginia's Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging unconscionable prices for necessary goods and services during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency.

Items and services covered by those protections include water, food, generators and other essential items. It also includes home repair materials and services as well as tree removal services.

Consumers can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Section of the Attorney General's office by calling 800-552-9963, emailing consumer@oag.state.va.us, or by filling out this online complaint form.

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