Alabama Attorney General activates price gouging law in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Alabama News
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama’s price gouging law has been activated, according to a news release from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office on Thursday.

The release said Attorney General Steve Marshall activated the law as a warning to people who are seeking to illegally profit from the current public health emergency.

Governor Kay Ivey declared a State Public Health Emergency in Alabama in relation to COVID-19, the 2019 novel coronavirus.

AG Marshall said Alabama’s price gouging law comes into effect when the Governor declares a State of Emergency. It prohibits the “unconscionable pricing” of items for sale or rent, according to Marshall.

“Alabamians should be on guard against those who would seek to prey upon them through price gouging of commodities and services for consumption or use as a direct result of the public health emergency,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Furthermore, those who seek to profit during this time of emergency through price gouging will be subject to the law.”

AG Marshall said what constitutes an unconscionable price is not specifically set in state law, but he describes it as the following:

“… a price that is 25 percent or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days — unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity — is a prima facie case of unconscionable pricing.”

The penalty is up to $1,000 per violation and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama, according to the release.

According to the release, Alabamians who want to file an illegal price gouging report are encouraged to do so through the Alabama Attorney General’s Consumer Interest Division web link, or by calling 1-800-392-5658 to receive a form by mail to complete and return. Alabamians may also write to AG Marshall’s Office at 501 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama, 36130. 

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