Hurricane Season Price Gouging

Prepare for Hurricane Season and Beware of Price Gouging

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today and Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking Floridians to be prepared should a storm impact the state. As a peninsula state with warm waters, Florida is especially vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes, and Attorney General Bondi is encouraging citizens to review the 2017 Hurricane Preparedness Guide to prepare for a storm or common scams that could arise in the aftermath.

“Our Hurricane Preparedness Guide is full of helpful information and advice to better prepare for a storm and avoid common storm-related scams,” said Attorney General Bondi. “The best advice is to prepare now. Use our hurricane supply checklist and make sure you have enough food, water and supplies to support your family in the wake of a disaster.”

The guide includes information about how to avoid scams before and after a storm, suggestions for a full supply list and other important preparation tips. Some of the most common storm-related scams to watch out for include tree-removal scams, building repair scams, debris-removal scams, disaster relief scams and water testing and treatment scams.

Below are some tips from the guide:

• Be on the lookout for price gouging. Florida law bans the unconscionable increase in prices in the rental or sale of essential commodities such as lumber, ice, water, generators and shelter once a state of emergency has been declared;

• Be familiar with evacuation routes, and stock up on food, water and emergency supplies;

• Proceed with caution if a product claims to be hurricane-proof or impact-proof;

• Be wary of any contractor who approaches unsolicited or offers to perform repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job; and

• Know that numerous charities crop up after natural disasters. Some of these charities are legitimate, while others are run by scam artists looking to profit off of the goodwill of others.

In 2016, the Florida Attorney General’s Office received more than 3,100 price gouging complaints from citizens after a state of emergency was declared for Hurricane Matthew. Attorney General Bondi’s Consumer Protection Division reviewed each complaint, obtained refunds where warranted, opened 21 investigations and filed four lawsuits alleging price gouging violations since October 2016. To date, the litigations and investigations have resulted more than $60,000 in restitution paid to victims and more than $70,000 in penalties paid to Florida. Many of the investigations are still ongoing.

Floridians who suspect a scam or would like to report an incident of price gouging should call (866) 9-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.

To view the Attorney General’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide, click here.