Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
PRICE GOUGING PROTECTIONS IN EFFECT AHEAD OF POTENTIAL WINTER WEATHER
~ Price gouging statute was activated upon declaration of state of emergency; covers items such as food, water, generators, and more ~
RICHMOND (January 6, 2022) – As Virginia prepares for more winter weather in the coming days, 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 necessities during an emergency.
"The sad reality is that bad actors will take advantage of inclement weather or other natural disasters just to make an extra buck,” said Attorney General Herring. "Virginians should not have to worry about paying too much for necessary goods when they are trying to keep themselves and their families safe and warm during a snowstorm. I want to encourage any Virginian who believes they may have experienced any kind of price gouging to reach out to my Consumer Protection Section and please take extra precautions during this winter weather.”
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.
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.
Attorney General Herring's Anti-Price Gouging Work
Attorney General Herring has taken numerous enforcement actions regarding price gouging following the state of emergency that was declared in May 2021 in response to the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline that disrupted gasoline supply throughout the Commonwealth.
During Governor Northam's state of emergency that was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Attorney General's Office received more than 500 complaints and e-mails alleging possible price gouging activity and sent more than 150 investigative letters to businesses. He and his Consumer Protection Section took enforcement action against price gouging in relation to the emergency declaration in response to COVID. Investigation of these complaints largely revealed that many price increases occurred further up the supply chain with manufacturers or distributors that were beyond the reach of the state's price gouging laws, and this prompted Attorney General Herring to successfully seek amendments to the state's price gouging law during the 2020 General Assembly special session.
Additionally, in April 2020, Attorney General Herring led a national effort to address price gouging in the PPE supply chain, urging 3M as one of the largest manufacturers of PPE, particularly masks, to do more to address price gouging within supply and distribution chains that was causing hospitals and healthcare providers to pay exorbitant prices for PPE.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section for information or to file a complaint:
· By phone: (800) 552-9963
· By email:
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