SEBASTIAN, Florida – If you suspect price gouging during Hurricane Irma in Sebastian or Vero Beach, there’s a hotline to report it.
Price gouging is the unlawful sale or lease for essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency in Florida.
On Monday, Gov. Scott issued a state of emergency in Florida, so the 30-day prices prior to Monday will be considered the average.
If you suspect price gouging in Sebastian or Vero Beach, obtain as much information as possible in the form of estimates, invoices, receipts or bills.
When comparing products, note as much information as possible, including the product name, size or quantity, manufacturer, item number and unit price. For lumber products, note the grade, thickness, and quality.
If it is a service such as storage or towing, note the per-mile (or other distance) charge, removal charges, per-day storage charges and other charges such as security, clean up or other “add-ons.”
Report this information to the Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226.
Plan ahead to avoid becoming a victim of price gouging. Prepare for a disaster before it happens. Always have the following items on hand:
- Five gallons of drinking water per person in your household
- At least two working flashlights
- A portable radio
- A telephone with a cord – If the electrical power is lost, a cordless telephone will not work
- An ample supply of batteries to power these and other items
- A full tank of propane and charcoal if you have a charcoal grill
- Non-perishable food items
- Formula and diapers, if you have young children in the home
Keep in mind that the Price Gouging Statute covers only essential commodities. A “commodity” means any good, service, material, merchandise, supplies, equipment, resources, or other article of commerce, and includes, without limitation, food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum products, and lumber necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency.
The law also requires those selling goods and services to possess an occupational license in Sebastian or Vero Beach. Examples of non-essential items luxury items are alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.
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