Officials Warn of Price Gouging Ahead of Irma’s Possible Hit

As South Florida prepares for a possible hurricane, state officials activated the price gouging hotline in effort to protect consumers.

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Monday night the opening of the hotline hours after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in response to category 4 Hurricane Irma.

It is illegal for businesses to extremely increase the price of essential goods such as food, water, ice, gasoline, lumber, equipment and even hotels during a state of emergency.

“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,” said Bondi.

Anyone who suspects price gouging should report it to 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Miami-Dade Police Department sent a stern warning on Twitter, tweeting “Price gouging during a state emergency is illegal!”

Anyone caught price gouging faces $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.