Florida Attorney General activates line to help get the gougers

As Hurricane Irma’s projected track and growing strength spurred runs on water and long gas lines Tuesday morning, the Florida Attorney General’s office fired up the Price Gouging Hotline to make sure business didn’t take undue advantage of the situation.

Consumers who see massive price jackups in food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment for hurricane preparation compared to last week can call 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) to report the business.

“Floridians need to prepare now and they should not be inhibited by unlawful price increases on supplies necessary to brace for a major hurricane strike—that is why I’ve activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline and encourage anyone who suspects price gouging to report it to my office by calling (866)-9-NO-SCAM,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi’s statement.

Section 501.160 Florida Statute prohibits selling, leasing or participating in selling or leasing needed commodities, living space or storage facilties for too far above what was the market rate for the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its costs or market trends. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Sunday.

Violators can be fined $1,000 per violation up to $25,000 for multiple violations within 24 hours. Also, those selling goods and services without an occupational license commit a second-degree misdemeanor.