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When high demand items skyrocket in price during times of emergencies, like hurricanes and snow storms, it is often the result of price gouging. Price gouging is when the price of an item is raised far above the normal price of the item simply because of a perceived scarcity of the item in the immediate future. In many states, price gouging is against the law and legal actions can be taken against people and companies engaged in price gouging if they are reported. Here is a brief checklist on reporting suspected price gouging to the proper authorities.

Identifying Suspected Price Gouging

Price gouging is typically noticed when the price of a familiar item goes way up in a short period of time. While the laws for different states vary, a reasonable assumption is that a rapid price increase of more than 20% is excessive. In some cases, the new price is double or triple the normal cost of the item. Reporting suspected price gouging can remove bad actors from the playing field and ensure that more people are not taken advantage of.

Gather All Of The Information You Can

When reporting suspected price gouging, it is important to gather all of the information that you safely can so that the investigating entity has all of the facts available to them. Information that will be helpful includes the name and address of the business, the date and time of the transaction, the names of any employees involved in the transaction, and the difference in price before and after the suspected price gouging, Any documentation to back up your claim, like receipts, printed ads, or photographs, will also be helpful in proving that wrongdoing has occurred.

Reporting Suspected Price Gouging To The Better Business Bureau

Once you have gathered all of the information, the next step is reporting suspected price gouging to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB has an online form that you can fill out to get the investigation started. Within two business days, valid complaints will be forwarded to the business, which will have 14 days to respond to the allegations. You will be notified of the response, or lack of response, and the next steps that will be taken. Most cases are closed within 30 days of the initial complaint.

Reporting Suspected Price Gouging To The State Attorney General’s Office

While there are few federal laws against price gouging, 37 states have some laws against price gouging on their books. In these states, the state’s attorney general can prosecute any business that excessively increases its prices to take advantage of an emergency situation. Most states accept complaints about price gouging by phone or online and some accept complaints by email too.

Final Thoughts

While some price increases over time are to be expected, hiking the price of necessities during periods of crisis is unfair and, in many cases, illegal. Reporting suspected price gouging increases the chances that everyone will have equal opportunity for obtaining needed food, water, and other supplies. For more information about price gouging and other questionable business practices, check out some of the articles listed below.

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The post Here’s a Quick Checklist for Reporting Suspected Price Gouging appeared first on Blonde and Balanced.