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Post date: February 14 2007

Attorney General Cuomo Issues Warning Against Price Gouging In Wake Of Severe Winter Storms

NEW YORK, NY (February 14, 2007)—New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today reminded consumers and businesses in those communities affected by the recent severe winter storms that State law prohibits excessive increases in prices for essential goods and services during times of market disturbance.

The Attorney General’s office is monitoring prices for essential goods and services – such as food and water, lodging, fuel, towing, snow clearing, and emergency home repairs – to ensure that consumers are not gouged.

“Over the past week, communities across Central, Northern, and Eastern New York have been buried by as much as 11 feet of snow,” Cuomo said. “My office stands prepared to ensure that consumers are not gouged by those seeking to take advantage of the hardships caused by these storms. I encourage all those who are aware of unscrupulous actions, or who believe they have been victims of price gouging, to report these incidents to my office. The last thing the people of these communities need is to be ripped off in their time of need, and we are here to help stop that from happening.”

Steve Stelmashuck, the Supervisor of  Parish, in Oswego County, said, “It’s absolutely vital that people realize that they don’t need to be taken advantage of when weather situations unexpectedly put a strain on their resources. We appreciate what the Attorney General’s office is doing to help the public prevent this unethical activity.”

Price gouging associated with winter storms occurs when the severe weather causes a disruption in the market of essential goods and services. It can be recognized when there is a dramatic increase in the price of these goods or services with no corresponding increase in the cost to the supplier.

The Office of the Attorney General has successfully brought price gouging cases in the wake of the 2006 flooding of the Southern Tier, the 1998 Labor Day storm in Syracuse, and the 1998 ice storm in the North Country.

Consumers in need of essential goods and services during and after the winter storms should take note of the following tips for avoiding price gouging:

  • Request identification from all service providers and record relevant information –
    including name, address, phone number, and vehicle license plate number.
  • Whenever possible, pay with a check and avoid paying in cash. Make sure to get a receipt.
  • If possible, get references from people that you know.
  • If possible, obtain a written contract or agreement from service providers.
  • Avoid high-pressure tactics from service providers.

Incidents of potential price gouging can be reported to the Attorney General’s Hotline: (800) 771-7755

In addition, the following regional offices are prepared to assist consumers and receive reports of potential price gouging:

Central New York: Syracuse Regional Office
Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties
(315) 448-4800 or (800) 771-7755

Tug Hill Plateau: Watertown Regional Office
Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties
(315) 785-2444 or (800) 771-7755

Mohawk Valley: Utica Regional Office
Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, and Oneida counties
(315) 793-2225 or (800) 771-7755

Capital District: Albany Executive Office
Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie,
Warren, and Washington counties
(518) 474-5481 or (800) 771-7755

Hudson Valley: Poughkeepsie Regional Office
Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Ulster counties
(845) 485-3900 or (800) 771-7755