W.Va. AG warns against price gouging during State of Preparedness

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warns against price gouging during a state of preparedness declared Wednesday as West Virginia prepares for heavy rain forecasted to fall days after flooding rains spurred a state of emergency across a portion of southern West Virginia.

Laws prohibiting such activity – already in effect for seven southern counties – took effect statewide Wednesday with the governor’s declaration of a state of preparedness.

The state’s price gouging laws specifically prohibit any person, business or contractor from inflating the price of select consumer items by more than 10 percent of what the items sold for 10 days prior to the declaration.

“As we face the potential for severe weather, it’s important for people to ready themselves and their homes,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Businesses should be fair to consumers as they gather necessary items in the event of power outages or flooding.”

The law takes effect during any state of emergency or state of preparedness as issued by West Virginia’s governor. Price gouging laws remain in effect until the declaration is lifted or 30 days, whichever is longer, subject to limited exceptions.

The Attorney General urges any consumer who believes he or she may have been charged prices that increased dramatically after the state of emergency declaration to file a complaint with his office. Those with a receipt should attach a copy to their complaint.

Anyone with a question about price gouging laws or who believes they have been a victim of price gouging should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

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Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com