As state, federal and local officials continue to monitor the projected path of Hurricane Dorian, Attorney General Ashley Moody activated Florida’s price gouging hotline to protect consumers. Earlier this week, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in the path of Dorian. Activated on Wednesday – and extended on Thursday – the Price Gouging Hotline is now available to consumers in all 67 counties.
State law prohibits excessive increases in the price of essential commodities; such as food, ice, water, hotel rooms, gasoline, generators, lumber and building equipment, or other essentials needed in an officially declared emergency. Violators are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.
In addition to the civil penalties for price gouging, state law criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of a business tax receipt. Violators of the law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Specifically, Florida Statute, Section 501.160, states – in part – that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, rent, offer to sell, or offer for rent essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency.
“You should be taking steps now to ensure you are prepared for the storm and the possibility of days without electricity,” stated Attorney General Ashley Moody. “I have extended Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline to all 67 counties in an effort to prevent gouging, so Floridians can afford essential items now. Please report gouging to my office by calling (866) 9NO-SCAM or download our new reporting app—NO SCAM.”
Anyone who suspects price gouging during this – or any other declared state of emergency – should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by using the NO SCAM app, filing a complaint online, or by calling (866) 9NO-SCAM.