Hurricane Ian: Georgia AG warns against price gouging, scams

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Alert follows state of emergency from Gov. Kemp

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr warned consumers Thursday to be on the lookout for price gouging and scams by con artists who try to take advantage of people affected by Hurricane Ian.

When Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency effective 7 a.m. Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, it invoked the state’s price gouging statute that applies to gasoline, diesel and other goods and services necessary for preparation, response and recovery related to Ian.

Metro Atlanta gas prices had been on the decline for months before Hurricane Ian took aim at the U.S., and started to climb again over the last few days. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.25 Thursday afternoon up about 11 cents since Saturday, according to GasBuddy.com.

During the state of emergency in Georgia, businesses cannot sell at prices higher than before the declaration — unless price hikes “accurately reflect an increase in the cost of new stock or the cost to transport it, plus the retailer’s average markup percentage applied during the 10 days immediately prior to the declaration of a State of Emergency,” according to Carr’s office.

Carr said in a written statement that “anyone who is artificially increasing costs on the backs of hardworking Georgians will be held accountable.”

The attorney general’s consumer protection division advised consumers to use legitimate contractors with required licensing, and to steer clear of contractors who ask for full payment up front, refuse to provide a written contract or only accept payment in cash.

It also warned people to be wary of charity fraud and to consider donating only to charities you know and trust.

Consumers in Georgia who believe they encountered a scam or price gouging can file a complaint online, and can also report suspicious charitable solicitations online.