COLUMBIA, SC (Press Release) –South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that the state’s law against price gouging is now in effect, since Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency.
“With the possibility that Tropical Storm Florence could make landfall in South Carolina, likely as a hurricane, our people have already started making preparations. We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, and other commodities as defined by the statute. By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice,” Wilson said.
The price-gouging law (SC §39-5-145) is a general prohibition of unconscionable prices during times of disaster. It is in effect until the state of emergency expires or is terminated. Price gougers can be charged for excessive pricing, a misdemeanor offense punishable with a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Normal fluctuations in price are to be expected and are not price gouging, but if you feel like you are the victim of price gouging there are certain steps that you can take to help our office investigate. Please do the following:
1. Note the time, place, address, and name of the gas station or business
2. Note the price you paid
3. Note any prices nearby and get the same information on those stations or businesses
4. Take pictures that identify the business, along with the price
5. Provide your name and contact information
Our office will need that information in order to conduct a thorough investigation. Please email any examples or documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 803-737-3953 and leave a message if you have witnessed a likely violation.