California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Friday issued a consumer alert reminding residents it is against the law to overcharge by more than 10 percent the price of an item following a state of emergency declaration.
“Families in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are in the midst of dealing with devastating wildfires,” Becerra said. “They should not have to worry about whether they’re being illegally cheated out of fair prices. Our state’s price-gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on housing, gas, food, and other essential supplies.”
Becerra said he encourages anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through the Attorney General’s website by calling (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.
A state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties was declared due to the spreading wildfires.
The price-gouging law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline.
The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods or materials has increased for the business.
Violators of the price-gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators also are subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.