JEFFERSON CITY – Attorney General Eric Schmitt has issued a consumer alert warning both consumers and businesses about price gouging following the winter storm.
Due to the winter storm Gia, forecasters are projecting that most of Missouri will be affected by severe weather, including accumulations of snow, freezing rain, and ice.
“Unfortunately, there are individuals who see opportunities like this to take advantage of Missourians for their own personal gain,” Attorney General Schmitt said. “My office is here to keep Missouri families safe, and I want Missourians to be alert for scammers who prey upon our citizens in need of help.”
Price gouging refers to artificially inflated prices on necessities after a disaster, natural or otherwise. Missouri law prohibits individuals and businesses from substantially raising their prices for the necessities of life during such an emergency.
The types of goods and services covered by the price gouging law include food and water, gasoline, hotel rooms, kerosene, gas powered generators, and other basic necessities. Those who violate the price gouging provisions can face penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
The aftermath of winter storms may also necessitate the hiring of contractors to assist with additional snow removal and home repairs. Consumers should protect themselves when hiring contractors to perform storm-related services by considering the following:
Shop around. Get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided.
Get it in writing. Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed.
Never pay the full price up front. Negotiate a payment schedule tied into the completion of specific stages of the job.
Get references. Check with the Attorney General’s Office and BBB for any complaints. Always contact references provided to you.
To report complaints related to the winter storm to the Attorney General’s Office, please contact our Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.