Price gouging, a concern in wake of hurricane

By Greg Collier

With Hurricane Ida touching down in Louisiana, states of emergency have been declared in several Gulf Coast states. Typically, when a state of emergency is declared, laws go into effect that are designed to prevent price gouging. This is when vendors overcharge for products or services in order to maximize profit during a crisis. Historically, you might have seen gas stations and motels charging outlandish prices leading up to or in the wake of a hurricane. Some hardware and grocery stores have also been offenders of this practice in the past.

Thanks to consumer protection laws in most storm-prone states, price gouging isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be. That’s not to say it still doesn’t happen. For example, if you were to travel to a state that’s not in a state of emergency to ride out the storm, you might encounter price gouging in the safe location. That’s also not to say that some vendors in the emergency areas won’t defy state law and try to gouge customers anyway.

If you do happen to encounter price gouging, be sure to document it as well as you can. You can then report it to either the local police or the state’s Attorney General’s office. Some states even have price gouging hotlines that you can call if you’ve been victimized by a vendor. A quick web search should show you where price gouging can be reported in your area.

We hope everyone who is living in the affected storm areas stays safe.