FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jackson, MS - Attorney General Jim Hood is today enforcing the state’s price gouging laws as Mississippi prepares for Hurricane Isaac.
“The proclamation engaging the price gouging law only applies in counties traversed by Interstate 20 and all counties south of that line,” said Attorney General Hood. “The rule of thumb for merchants inside this area is that they can pass on verifiable increases in their cost of products, but they cannot increase their average profit margin on products after 5:20 p.m. on Monday, August 27, 2012, until the executive order is rescinded. Violations of our price gouging laws could result in one to five years behind bars per count.”
The law says that “the value received for all goods and services sold within the designated emergency impact area shall not exceed the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods or services in the same market area at or immediately before the declaration of a state of emergency or local emergency. However, the value received may include: any expenses, the cost of the goods and services which are necessarily incurred in procuring such goods and services during a state of emergency or local emergency.”
Today, the Attorney General’s Office has received about 160 calls related to price gouging. Most of the calls are gas related, although a couple are water related. All total, the Attorney General’s Office has received approximately 200 price gouging calls related to Isaac.
Attorney General Hood called on the major fuel producers and distributors to rescind their increases from yesterday.
“It just isn’t right to slip in last minute increases knowing our folks are facing an emergency situation.” said Attorney General Hood. “After Katrina some hotel owners in North Mississippi decreased their prices for those fleeing the hurricane. I hope that spirit will prevail during Isaac.”
The counties covered under the price gouging statute during the state of emergency are: Warren, Hinds, Rankin, Scott, Newton, Lauderdale, Claiborne, Copiah, Simpson, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Lincoln, Lawrence, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Wilkinson, Amite, Pike, Walthall, Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson.
Any merchants with questions about the law and any consumers with complaints can contact the AG’s Consumer hotline at 1-800-281-4418. Consumers may go to agjimhood.com for more information.