7 On Your Side: Tips for detecting and reporting price gouging following Ida flooding

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In New York and New Jersey, a state of emergency was declared after the remnants of Hurricane Ida ravaged the area and that means regulations meant to protect consumers from price gouging on items that are in short supply because of the disaster.

It's against the law, to charge more for services or goods and take advantage of what flood victims need right now to pump out, clean up and rebuild.

"It could be a room, it could be gas, it could be household goods, people are trying to clean up after the mess. It could be all of those things, mops, anything, all of a sudden the price goes way, way higher than it normally would," President and CEO of Better Business Bureau of New YorkClaire Rosenzweig said.

The Better Business Bureau is bracing for a flood of complaints, which unfortunately follow every disaster.

During the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2,700 violations were issued to sellers after New York City got 7,200 complaints about unconscionably high prices on wipes, masks, and hand sanitizer.

With part of New York City devastated by Ida, the Mayor's not putting up with it.

"We're also going to intervene aggressively if anyone's trying to do wrong by someone who is suffering. Right now we're hearing a few reports of price gouging, some homeowners being ripped off by plumbers and other folks who are supposed to be taking care of their needs in the middle of a crisis," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Rosenzweig said to help you avoid price gouging, do not use contractors who are not licensed or are uninsured, look for valid registration with your state consumer protection division, and never pay for repairs or renovations upfront.
Also, check resources like the BBB Scam Tracker for reviews and rip-off tip-offs.

"We have to help people clean up. We have to help people get out of the mess that they find themselves in,"Rosenzweig said.

Remember once short supply is declared, stores can't increase prices.

They also cannot require a minimum purchase or deny customers equal opportunity to buy items.

If you think you've been a victim of price gouging, report it to your local consumer affairs agencies.

In New York City you can call 311 or go online to the city's website.

In New Jersey, you can file a complaint online with Consumer Affairs.

Consumers can also report businesses to the Better Business Bureau.

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