NORTH CAROLINA — Governor Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina in response to the Coronavirus; this means price gouging protection laws are now in effect to protect consumers.
Attorney General Josh Stein sent out a press release today informing businesses and residents to be vigilant and aware during the state of emergency.
“With reports of coronavirus infections on the rise, North Carolina is under a state of emergency and our price gouging law is in effect,” Stein said in a press release. “It is illegal to charge excessive prices during a state of emergency. If you see businesses taking advantage of this crisis, let my office know and we will work to hold them accountable.”
The state statute goes into effect whenever a state of emergency is declared and protects consumers from businesses charging too much in direct relation to a declaration of state of emergency.
“Attorney General Stein and the North Carolina Department of Justice will be reviewing price gouging complaints from consumers closely and are prepared to take action against any businesses engaging in price gouging activities. Please report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/ [ncdoj.gov],” the release reads.
Stein has brought lawsuits against price gouging businesses in the past including after Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.
“After Hurricanes Michael and Florence devastated North Carolina in 2018, Attorney General Stein brought seven lawsuits against 22 defendants under North Carolina’s price gouging statute. He has obtained eight judgments against 17 defendants, including a $274,000 settlement [ncdoj.gov] that was one of the largest price gouging settlements in the department’s history. The Attorney General’s Office has won more than $725,000 in these judgments, including:
- $242,500 in consumer restitution
- $392,500 in money companies are barred from collecting from homeowners
- $94,500 in penalties and fees” the release concludes.