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Price-gouging law in effect as flood recovery begins across South Carolina

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Staff Report
Published Oct. 5, 2015

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson is asking citizens to alert his office to any price gouging as a result of the flooding over the weekend.

The state’s price gouging statute, which prohibits unconscionable prices during times of disaster, emergency or abnormal disruption in the market, is in effect for the next 15 days, Wilson said in a news release.

Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency (.pdf) on Thursday ahead of the record-breaking rainfall and flooding.

“As we continue to recover from the catastrophic damage caused to our state, we will see many neighbors helping each other rebuild. However, we may also see some looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, water and any other commodities as defined by the statute,” Wilson said in a statement. “Pursuant to state law, price gouging constitutes a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice.”

Those charged with excessive pricing face a misdemeanor that is punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail, the news release said.

Wilson said citizens who witness or are aware of price gouging should send any examples or documentation via email, tweet photos or examples to @SCPriceGouging or call 803-737-3953.

The price gouging statute, section 39-5-145, and an opinion from the Attorney General’s office on the statute (.pdf) are both available online.

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