With a state of emergency now in effect for Rhode Island, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning all retail sellers, whether individual business owners or corporations, not to try to profit from Hurricane Irene. Rhode Island General Laws section 30-15-19 broadly prohibits all retail sellers from increasing prices of any item immediately prior to or during a declared state of emergency.
“Now that a state of emergency has been declared in Rhode Island, it is imperative that we work together to ensure the safety of ourselves, our families and our neighbors.” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “Unfortunately, sometimes in a crisis there are those who seek to take advantage of the situation. I know that the majority of Rhode Islanders do not take this attitude, but I want to remind everyone to be aware of potential price gouging. I urge all of our citizens to take extra precautions this weekend.”
Anyone who feels they have been the victim of price gouging just before or during the state of emergency declared by Governor Chafee should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit. They should be able to identify what they purchased, when and where they purchased it, the price they paid and why they feel that price was recently increased.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit by calling 401-274-4400 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.