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Morrisey warns against price gouging during state of preparedness

CHARLESTON — Price gouging during a state of preparedness or emergency is illegal, the Attorney General of West Virginia said on Thursday.

Laws prohibiting such activity — already in effect for seven southern counties — took effect statewide Wednesday with the governor’s declaration of a state of preparedness, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.

The price gouging laws prohibit any person, business or contractor from inflating the price of select consumer items by more than 10 percent of what the items sold for 10 days prior to the declaration.

The governor Wednesday declared the state of preparedness because of the potential of more rain causing flooding, particularly in the southern counties.

“As we face the potential for severe weather, it’s important for people to ready themselves and their homes,” Morrisey said. “Businesses should be fair to consumers as they gather necessary items in the event of power outages or flooding.”

The law takes effect during any state of emergency or state of preparedness as issued by the governor. Price gouging laws remain in effect until the declaration is lifted or 30 days, whichever is longer, subject to limited exceptions.

Consumers who believe they have been charged prices that dramatically increased after the state of emergency declaration can file a complaint with the office of the Attorney General. Those with a receipt should attach a copy to their complaint.

For more information call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or go to wvago.gov.

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