May 30 2009 – LAWFUEL.COM – Monday will officially mark the beginning of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. Aside from the physical devastation hurricanes can cause, this season is also a time when con artists try to capitalize on the vulnerabilities of storm victims by price gouging on essential supplies such as food, water, ice, gasoline or a place to stay during an evacuation.
As a Florida citizen or one of our guests, it’s important you know that Florida law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Price gouging should be reported to the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226). Whenever a state of emergency is declared, our price gouging hotline is activated and members of my staff are standing by to protect you from further victimization.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be prepared well ahead of the storm. If you are going to be in Florida during hurricane season, I urge you to have a plan ready. This should include having a stock of hurricane supplies, locating the nearest hurricane shelters well in advance, preparing a personal evacuation plan, and getting any property ready to withstand high winds and water. Remember to include your pets in any plans, as many shelters will not allow pets.
Hurricane season can bring higher than normal levels of fraudulent activity and increased stress, but we can proactively reduce scammers? opportunities to strike when a storm is upon us. As the start of the season approaches, know that your Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting Florida’s residents and guests before, during and after the storm.