Price gouging is a crime

Historic City News readers are reminded that since the entire state of Florida is under a declared “state of emergency”, Florida’s price gouging law automatically applies statewide.

State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, ice, gas, hotels, lumber and water during this declared state of emergency.

Specifically, F.S. 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease 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, unless the seller can justifying the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends.

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period, in addition to other civil penalties that may apply. State law also criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of an occupational license. Violators of the law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

Report an instance of price gouging or contractor fraud during a declared state of emergency to the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.

Additionally, you may report unlicensed contractors to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 1-866-532-1440.

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