Hurricane

Here’s what to do if you see price gouging from Nate

Regular gas was $2.12 a gallon Friday at this Murphy's Express station on Eisenhower Drive. State Attorney General Jim Hood wants consumers to report any suspicions of price gouging associated with Hurricane Nate.
Regular gas was $2.12 a gallon Friday at this Murphy's Express station on Eisenhower Drive. State Attorney General Jim Hood wants consumers to report any suspicions of price gouging associated with Hurricane Nate. Mary Perez

Are you seeing gasoline with an exorbitant price? A hotel room rate that seems way too high? Or does a store want five bucks for a bag of ice?

If so, it’s price gouging, a crime that often comes in advance of and after a hurricane making landfall or when other disasters occur.

Nate may or may not bring out unscrupulous business practices. But price-gouging isn’t uncommon on the Gulf Coast when hurricanes come.

Price gouging, for instance, made national headlines in September following Hurricane Harvey. The state attorney general in Texas is suing at least three businesses accused of gouging people who were evacuating or trying to find shelter. A hotel reportedly tripled its room rate from $149.99 to $321.89 a night. One gas station was selling gasoline for $6.99 a gallon. Another sold gas for $9.99 a gallon.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said his investigators checked the prices of emergency supplies, such as water, generators and gas prices, around the state on Friday. Those prices were recorded in case price gouging becomes an issue, he said.

If you see an exorbitant price, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-281-4418. The hotline opened Friday and will be manned around the clock through Tuesday.

If possible, use your cellphone to take a picture of the price or anything else to document the price, Hood said. Email your pictures to aginfo@ago.state.ms.us.

Gov. Phil Bryant issued declared a state of emergency declaration on Friday.

However, the language of the declaration “does not necessarily give law enforcement the means to enforce and investigate reports of price gouging,” Hood said.

Hood is encouraging consumers to report suspicions of price-gouging “so we will be able to monitor the situation to decide whether to recommend that the (price-gouging) statute be triggered.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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