Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
PRICE GOUGING PROTECTIONS IN EFFECT AS CLEANUP FROM WINDS CONTINUES
~ Anti-price gouging statute was activated upon declaration of state of emergency; covers items and services such as water, food, tree removal, home repair, generators, and more ~
RICHMOND(March 5, 2018)-As Virginians continue to cleanup from last week's damaging winds, Governor Ralph Northam's declaration of a state of emergency has triggered Virginia's anti-price gouging statutes designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for needed goods and services during an emergency. In addition, state law includes protections for Virginians who purchase tree removal, home repair, or other services via door-to-door sales.
"When you're cleaning up after severe weather, the last thing you want to deal with is a scam or an exorbitant price for a needed service or product," said Attorney General Herring. "Virginia law offers protections for consumers who find themselves in need of things like tree removal or home repair after extreme weather. I'd encourage all Virginians to carefully review any terms before paying for any good or service, and contact my office as soon as possible if you think you're being illegally overcharged or suspect someone may be running a scam."
Enacted in 2004, Virginia's Post-Disaster 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.
Suspected violations of Virginia's Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section for information or to file a complaint:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- By email:
- Price Gouging Complaint Form
- General Online Complaint Form
- Online Contact Form
After extreme weather events, Virginians may also be considering purchasing cleanup services like tree removal or home repairs from a door-to-door salesperson. While these opportunities can be legitimate and convenient, door-to-door sales scams often appear following severe weather and other natural disasters. Remember these tips when someone comes to your door to sell you something:
Resist pressure. High pressure sales tactics are often a part of fraudulent activity. Do not be hurried or intimidated. The salesperson is at your door uninvited and remains there only at your courtesy. You can always ask for their contact information, consider the offer, and follow up at a later time.
Know who you're dealing with. Be extra cautious about letting someone into your home. Never let anyone into your home without first asking for identification. If you're considering purchasing a good or service, try to vet the company with friends, neighbors, Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Database, or a quick online search.
You have three days to change your mind unless you waive that right. Under Virginia law, you have three days to cancel sales made at your home if the product or service costs $25 or more. In an emergency you may waive that right, but you should think very carefully before doing so and read anything you are asked to sign very carefully.
Document as much as possible and avoid paying in cash. If you decide to purchase from or use the services of a door-to-door solicitor, get all information and promises in writing and use a credit card, if possible.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is highlighting the resources available through his Consumer Protection Section to protect Virginians from being exploited by abusive, deceptive, predatory, or illegal business practices. Since 2014, Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $240 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. The Section has also transferred more than $28.6 million to the Commonwealth's General Fund. Following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016, the OAG's Consumer Protection Section has been even more effective in fighting for the rights of Virginians.
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