Consumer Alert:
Attorney General James Warns New Yorkers Against Price Gouging Amid Winter Storm in Western New York

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 an alert warning businesses against price gouging of essential items amid the winter storm, which will bring heavy wind and lake effect snow to Western New York and other parts of the state. A state of emergency has been declared by the Governor in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, and Wyoming counties. 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 to report the issue to her office. 

“Ahead of major storms, and in their aftermaths, New Yorkers should be able to stock up on supplies without worrying that businesses might try to take advantage by jacking up prices,” said Attorney General James. “Charging excessive prices for essential products during weather emergencies is illegal and wrong, and it will never be tolerated in our state. I urge New Yorkers to remain vigilant and safe and report any price gouging to 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.