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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

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For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: mkelly@oag.state.va.us

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING HIGHLIGHTS PRICE GOUGING PROTECTIONS AHEAD OF WINTER STORM

~ Laws protect consumers from "unconscionable prices" for "necessary goods and services" during emergencies ~

Richmond--As Virginia prepares for an expected winter storm event, Governor McAuliffe's declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia's anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency. Enacted in 2004, 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 these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair materials and services, and tree removal services. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.

"Virginians first priority should be to prepare for this potentially significant winter storm event, but I encourage consumers to be aware of their rights and encourage businesses to be aware of their responsibilities under the law as we all respond to this storm," said Attorney General Herring. "Virginia's anti-price gouging protections allow for legitimate market responses but protect consumers from unscrupulous pricing that exploits these rare situations. Virginia's history of action against businesses who violate these protections shows that we take complaints seriously and I intend to responsibly investigate any claims of violations."

Violations of Virginia's Anti-Price Gouging Act are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Complaints should be reported for investigation to the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Section, with the exception of claims related to gasoline and motor fuel prices, which are handled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

If a consumer suspects they are a victim of price gouging, they can call the Consumer Protection Hotline or download a complaint form from the Attorney General's website and submit it in-person, by mail, or by fax. Consumers are encouraged to keep any relevant documentation and submit copies with their complaint.

Online Complaint Form:   http://www.ag.virginia.gov/Consumer%20Protection/Consumer_2012/PriceGougingComplaintFormOAG.pdf

In-Person/By Mail:       Office of the Attorney General of Virginia , Consumer Protection Section
                                 900 East Main Street
                                 Richmond, VA 23219

By Fax:                       (804) 225-4378

By Phone:                   (800) 552-9963, or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area

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