Buyer beware: Price gouging possibility amid Hurricane Irma preparations

MIAMI (WSVN) - Dozens of Floridians used the Labor Day holiday to prepare for Hurricane Irma, but a natural disaster may not be the only thing you should worry about.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all of Florida due to the hurricane, and while many are trying to get the necessary supplies, consumers should also be aware of price gouging.

According to Florida Statute 501.160, during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to or offer to sell or lease essential commodities for an amount that is much higher than the average price during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency.

The only way for the seller to prove that they are not price gouging is if they show customers a price increase with market trends.

It is illegal to raise prices of essential items like food, ice, gas and lumber, to name a few, according to the Price Gouging Statute.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of price gouging is to prepare before a storm.

However, as many Floridians gather the necessary supplies to get ready for Hurricane Irma, keep in mind that if there is a gross disparity between the usual price and the current charge, it may be considered price gouging.

If you have any price gouging complaints, you can fill out a form here. You may also call the State Consumer Hotline at 1-800-435-7352 or 1-866-9NO-SCAM.

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