Inside LADA

December 8, 2017: Wildfire Victims Should Beware of Price Gouging

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People displaced from their homes by wildfires can fall victim to consumer fraud as well.

During natural disasters, deceitful merchants may charge excessive prices for essential consumer goods and services. Price gouging is a crime during a state emergency.

This law applies to vendors of food, building materials, emergency supplies, medical supplies, gasoline, transportation, hotel accommodations, rental housing and similar resources.

While some costs may naturally rise because of increased demand, state law generally prohibits charging more than 10 percent above the price of an item before an emergency declaration.

Those convicted of price gouging could up face up to one year in county jail and a $10,000 fine.

TIPS:

  • Be aware of changes in price for goods and services.
  • Save receipts, if you suspect purchase prices were inflated.
  • Report suspected price gouging to the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division at (213) 257-2450.

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