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Post date: April 9 2003

Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Price Gouging

There have been allegations of price gouging resulting from the extreme weather that hit the Rochester and Syracuse areas late last week. The ice storm that devastated a 13-county area has resulted in a state of emergency throughout the region.

Taking advantage of consumers during this emergency is unconscionable and illegal.

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

This law applies to 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. It covers basic consumer goods such as milk and bread as well as other important items and services such as generators, emergency home repairs, and tree trimming.

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

Both my Rochester and Syracuse Regional Offices stand ready to aggressively pursue any reports of price gouging.

I encourage all individuals wishing to report price gouging incidents to call my office at (800) 771-7755.