SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California’s Attorney General warned California residents Monday about price gouging amid widespread fires.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued the consumer alert following Governor Jerry Brown’s state of emergency declaration. Price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal in California.
Under state law, business cannot charge more than 10 percent more for an item before a state of emergency declaration.
According to the Attorney General, the law applies to, “those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.”
Read the Attorney General’s full statement below:
“Fires are raging in some of California’s most beautiful lands,” said Becerra. “As our brave firefighters are working to contain the blazes and as many Californians are being evacuated, it should not be open season on innocent victims. Our State’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on housing, gas, food, and other essential supplies. As the top law enforcement officer in California, I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through my Office’s website or call (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”
Violators of the statute could face prison time and hefty fines.