Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2002

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERTS CONSUMERS ABOUT PRICE-GOUGING

State Disaster Declaration Issued After Tropical Storm Fay

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn alerted residents and other property owners today in certain flood-stricken coastal counties in southeast Texas to be on watch for attempts at price-gouging for consumer goods and services.

Gov. Rick Perry issued a state proclamation Monday certifying a state of disaster in Brazoria, Frio, Galveston, La Salle, Matagorda and Wharton counties. The Attorney General's Office, in turn, has the authority to enforce the law against those who engage in price-gouging for fuel, food, construction and repair work, and other goods and services while this declaration is in effect.

A declaration of disaster triggers stiffer penalties under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. These provisions protect consumers against those who charge exorbitant fees for fuel, food, medicines, repair work or other necessities during and after disasters.

"Many individuals and families in these affected areas have enough problems as it is without having to worry about losing money to ripoffs and scam artists," said Attorney General Cornyn. "My office takes these offenses seriously and will pursue those who take advantage of people in these dire circumstances."

The Attorney General reminds consumers and property owners to keep these tips in mind as flood cleanups get under way:

  • Engage the services of licensed or bonded contractors or builders;
  • Be wary of door-to-door solicitations and offers of up-front payment for services not rendered;
  • Don't be rushed into signing contracts;
  • Secure the terms of any warranty work in writing;
  • Ask for references from contractors of satisfied customers.

Persons who believe they have been victimized by price-gouging may file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office by calling toll-free 800/621-0508 or 800/337-3928. To file a complaint online go to www.oag.state.tx.us and click on "Consumer Protection."

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