January 6, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster today cautioned Missourians to be on the alert during the winter and spring storm seasons for storm-related price gouging. Price gouging refers to artificially inflated prices on necessities after a disaster, natural or otherwise. Missouri law prohibits individuals and businesses from substantially raising their prices for the necessities of life during such an emergency.
Koster said that Missouri has seen price gouging after the onset of ice storms, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. The types of goods and services covered by the price gouging law include food and water, gasoline, hotel rooms, kerosene, gas powered generators, and other basic necessities. Those who violate the price gouging provisions can face penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
"Unfortunately, there are always people who see disaster as personal opportunity," Koster said. "They take advantage of consumers when they are devastated by loss and are at their most vulnerable. The Attorney General's Office will be vigilant in enforcing Missouri's law against this type of activity."
To report price gouging to the Attorney General's Office, submit a complaint form online or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.