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June 30, 2010

Disaster Declarations Prompt Price-Gouging Rule

Des Moines. Attorney General Tom Miller announced today that Iowa's anti-price-gouging rule is now in effect in counties where disaster declarations have been issued due to flooding and severe weather.

“I will not tolerate anyone price-gouging Iowans who have already suffered enough,” Miller said.  Price-gouging is the practice of taking advantage of disaster victims by substantially raising the prices for needed goods or services without justification.

When the Governor issues a disaster proclamation for an Iowa county, price-gouging is considered an unfair practice under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.

Iowa Administrative Rules describe the practice as raising prices unreasonably above the price at which the merchandise or service was sold in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the emergency. (The rule recognizes the fact that prices sometimes may be higher because sellers also often incur increased costs.) The rule applies during the emergency declaration and "subsequent recovery period" up to six months.

The price-gouging rule, which was adopted in the wake of the floods of 1993, covers but is not limited to water, food, medicines, sanitation supplies, utilities, lodging, and materials, goods, or services for cleanup or repair. Unconscionable price-gouging might include unjustified high prices for materials or supplies that victims of storm damage may have little choice but to buy.

Current disaster proclamations are listed at: Room.html.

Complaints about possible price-gouging may be made to the Attorney General's Office by calling 515-281-5926 in Des Moines, or toll-free at 888-777-4590.  Consumers can also e-mail complaints to:  For more information:

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