Ala. A.G. Warns Against Price Gouging, Home Repair Fraud in Wake of Ivan

September 15, 2004

Alabama Attorney General Troy King warned unscrupulous contractors and businesses that he will be vigilant against those who seek to profit illegally at the expense of Alabamians who suffer damage and others who seek refuge in the state from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan.

He cautioned residents to be wary of those who would victimize them a second time through home repair frauds. He further noted that state law protects residents from price gouging when a disaster is so severe that a state of emergency is declared by the Governor.

“The good people of Alabama stand together in times of crisis, and we have laws to protect against those who would profiteer and take advantage of their fellow-citizens,” said King. “It is wrong and against the law to charge outrageous amounts for necessities that people must have in times of emergency. While this storm may inflict harm on our people, we will not tolerate allowing anyone to inflict further harm on those in Alabama. I have directed my Family Protection Unit to be on standby to respond and assist consumers with the hardships imposed by this destructive weather, and to respond aggressively to reports of wrongdoing.”

The state law that prohibits “unconscionable pricing” of items for sale or rent comes into play when the Governor has declared an official state of emergency. An unconscionable price is defined as one that is 25 percent or more than the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days, unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

Home repair fraud reportedly remains a persistent and serious problem in Alabama, and is a particular threat during times of natural disaster.

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