Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2002

THREAT FROM HURRICANE LILI PROMPTS PRICE-GOUGING WARNINGS BY ATTORNEY GENERAL

Governor Issues Declaration for Entire Gulf Coast

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn late this afternoon alerted residents and business owners along the entire Gulf Coast to heed the hurricane disaster threat proclaimed by Gov. Rick Perry and to report any incidences of price-gouging for food, fuel, lodging, repair work and other services.

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday issued the state proclamation after the National Hurricane Center declared a watch for the entire Gulf Coast as Hurricane Lili strengthens in the Gulf.

Attorney General Cornyn issued a strong warning to businesses that may be tempted to price-gouge consumers in anticipation of Hurricane Lili. The governor's declaration 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.

"While most Texas businesses faithfully follow the law, consumers should be aware that disasters are prime opportunities for unscrupulous businesses to inflate prices illegally," Cornyn said. "We will not tolerate this kind of dishonesty along the coast as those citizens prepare for a potential disaster."

The Attorney General reminds consumers and property owners to keep these tips in mind in the event of flood cleanups:

  • 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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