(DES MOINES, Iowa) Governor Terry Branstad’s disaster emergency proclamation Thursday triggered Iowa's price gouging rule for those declared counties, Attorney General Tom Miller announced.
“While Iowans are preparing and responding to Missouri River flooding, we want them to know that the law protects them from price gouging,” Miller said. “Price gouging is substantially raising prices for needed goods or services. Taking advantage of flood victims in these declared counties is illegal and is something our office will pursue.”
Iowa’s price gouging rule is now in effect in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury counties. 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 a "subsequent recovery period" of 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. Unlawful price gouging might include charging unjustified high prices for materials or supplies that victims of storm damage are dependent on.
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: email@example.com. For more information: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.
For additional state disaster response information: http://www.iowahomelandsecurity.org/news_room/press_releases.html.