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May 6, 2011

Price Gouging Rules Take Effect in Six Counties

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  President Obama’s authorization Thursday of a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration triggered Iowa's anti-price gouging rule for those declared counties, Attorney General Tom Miller announced Friday.

Iowa’s anti-price gouging rule is now in effect in Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Pocahontas, and Sac counties.  Price gouging is considered an unfair practice under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.

“The price gouging rule protects Iowans from anyone who, without justification, substantially raises prices for needed goods or services,” said Miller.  “We will pursue reports of price gouging and reports of people trying to take advantage of storm victims.”

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.  Unconscionable price-gouging might include unjustified high prices for materials or supplies that victims of storm damage are dependent on.

Consumers can file online complaints about possible price gouging through the Attorney General's website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov, or by calling 515-281-5926 in Des Moines (outside of the Des Moines area, call toll-free: 888-777-4590).  Consumers can also e-mail complaints to: consumer@ag.iowa.gov.

For additional state disaster response information:
http://www.iowahomelandsecurity.org/news_room/press_releases.html

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