Pallone Unveils Legislation to Combat Price Gouging After Natural Disasters
Long Branch, NJ –Today along the disaster evacuation route in Long Branch, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) unveiled legislation to combat price gouging after natural disaster declarations. Natural disasters have a history of resulting in unconscionable price increases for basic consumer goods such as gasoline, hotel rooms, food, and water. After Sandy, there were numerous reports of these unreasonable price increases throughout New Jersey. Congressman Pallone was joined by Beverly Brown Ruggia from NJ Citizen Action at the event.
The STAND UP Act would prohibit excessive pricing of consumer goods or services within 180 days of a declaration of a major disaster. It would empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to pursue civil penalties against offenders to stop unfair pricing practices immediately, enforce future compliance, and provide for damages for consumers who were wronged.
“When New Jerseyans were fleeing the shore to escape Sandy, many were faced with abusive prices for essentials that were needed to safely escape: gasoline, water, food, and hotel rooms,” said Pallone. “It was a cruel abuse of power by some unscrupulous businesses, and it added salt to very raw wounds. With this legislation, I hope to send a clear signal that the types of abuse we saw after Sandy will face the full force of the FTC. I will continue to work to advance this legislation, and to ensure that federal policies – like the people of New Jersey – are stronger than they were before Sandy.”
Many, but not all states have anti-gouging statutes, but the enforcement varies by state statute and by administration. In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma, consumers again faced abusive prices in the midst of crisis. People on the ground in Puerto Rico are reporting price gouging on items including prepared food and bottled water. Florida’s Attorney General has received more than 14,000 price gouging complaints related to Irma.