HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — With the snow comes a flurry of opportunistic businesses and con artists looking to cash in on the bad weather.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday warned consumers and businesses about price gouging after a major winter storm deposited more than a foot of snow in many parts of the state.
“As the snow subsides, we want Pennsylvanians to be aware of price-gouging and the laws in place to protect them from unfair price increases during emergencies,” Shapiro said. “If you think a vendor is price gouging, report it to our office’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.”
Governor Wolf’s declaration of a disaster emergency Monday triggered protections under state law for consumers and businesses from price gouging. Under state law governing a disaster emergency, companies and vendors are prohibited from charging a price for consumer goods or services that exceeds 20 percent of the average price those goods or services were sold for in the seven days preceding the date of the declaration.
Shapiro encouraged consumers with questions or concerns about price gouging to call OAG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection hotline at 800-441-2555 or go to the attorney general’s website to file a complaint.
“Whether it’s a snowplow operator charging you too much to clear your driveway, or a store over-charging you too much for a snow blower, if you think you’ve been price-gouged, our agents are here to protect you and enforce the law,” Shapiro said. “Call my office and tell us what’s happening in your community. We will not let you be taken advantage of because of this storm.”
Shapiro also reminded consumers and businesses to be wary of scam artists out at work in the wake of the storm, particularly home improvement contractors. He encouraged consumers to be wary of individuals who approach you with stories of “just being in the neighborhood” or other unsolicited offers that seem “too good to be true.”