Consumer Alert:
Attorney General James Warns Against Price Gouging in Watertown Amid Water Crisis

AG James Encourages New Yorkers to Report Price Gouging of Essential Items to Her Office

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued a consumer alert warning against price gouging of essential goods and services amid a water crisis in Watertown. A state of emergency has been declared in Jefferson County after a water main break in the City of Watertown shut off water in the county. New York’s price gouging statute prevents businesses from taking advantage of consumers by selling essential goods or services at an excessively higher price during market disruptions or emergencies. Attorney General James urges New Yorkers who see higher prices on essential goods and services, such as water, to report the issue to her office. 

“While first responders work to quickly fix the water main break in Jefferson County, I am strongly warning against price gouging of any essential goods and services,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers in Watertown and Jefferson County should be able to purchase boxes of water and other supplies without being taken advantage of. I urge any New Yorker who sees abnormally high prices during this emergency to contact my office.”

New York law prohibits businesses from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to health, safety, or welfare for an unconscionably excessive price during emergencies. The price gouging statute covers New York state vendors, retailers, and suppliers, and includes essential goods and services that are necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers or the general public. These goods and services include food, water, gasoline, generators, batteries, flashlights, hotel lodging, and transportation options.

When reporting price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), consumers should:

  • Report the specific increased prices, dates, and places that they saw the increased prices; and,
  • Provide copies of their sales receipts and photos of the advertised prices, if available.

Price gouging violations can carry penalties of up to $25,000 per violation. New Yorkers should report potential concerns about price gouging to OAG by filing a complaint online or calling 800-771-7755.