Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Price Gouging In Western New York

There have been allegations of price gouging resulting from the extreme weather that hit Western New York over the past week. The record-breaking snow falls have resulted in a federal state of emergency throughout the region.

Taking advantage of consumers during this emergency is unconscionable - and illegal - and my office will take aggressive action.

New York State law prohibits price gouging during a state of emergency. The law specifically provides that, in order to prevent any party from taking unfair advantage of consumers during an abnormal disruption of the market, the charging of unconscionably excessive prices is outlawed.

This law protects consumer goods and services vital and necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers, and applies to all parties in the chain of distribution, including retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and distributors.

The statute covers basic goods such as milk and bread as well as snow plowing services and emergency home repairs.

My office is empowered to investigate and prosecute violators of the price gouging law, including seeking mandatory civil penalties of up to $10,000.

My Buffalo Regional Office stands ready to aggressively pursue any reports of price gouging and has already reached out to Common Council members to obtain information on allegations and to express our interest in working together.

I encourage all individuals wishing to report price gouging incidents to call my Buffalo Regional office at (716) 853-8404.

Any violation of the price gouging law will be vigorously pursued by my office.