AUSTIN, Texas — Following the severe weather and flooding in South Texas during Hurricane Hanna, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a warning Wednesday saying state law prohibits price gouging after a declared disaster.
Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, towing, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the crisis.
“Natural disasters can pull communities together. Unfortunately, they can also pull in unscrupulous individuals looking to scam vulnerable citizens,” Paxton said in a press release. “As our communities work to rebuild and recover, my office will continue to aggressively prevent disaster scams and stands ready to prosecute any price-gouger who takes advantage of Texans.”
Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers stiffer penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Aransas, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria, Webb, Wharton, Willacy and Zapata counties.
Texans in affected counties who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at 800- 621-0508 or file a complaint online at texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.