July 18, 2021 – OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer warning last Friday after the governor declared a state of emergency for. exclaimed Siskiyou County because of the lava fire and Lassen and Plumas Counties because of the Beckwourth Complex Fire. Both fires destroyed houses, evacuated residents and damaged critical infrastructure. Attorney General Bonta reminds all Californians that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal under Section 396 of the Criminal Code.
“California’s wildfire season is just beginning, and we’re already facing devastating flames across the state. Since families are quick to evacuate their homes for fear of the worst, they shouldn’t have to worry about paying high prices for essential supplies. ” said Attorney General Bonta. “I encourage anyone who has been a victim of price gouging or has information about potential price gouging to immediately file a complaint with our office online at oag.ca.gov/report or to contact the local police or the sheriff’s office.”
California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds the price of an item by more than 10% prior to a state or local emergency declaration. This law applies to those selling groceries, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleaning services, transport, freight and storage services, hotel accommodation and rental apartments. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the prices for work, goods or materials for the company have increased.
Violations of the Price Gouging Act will result in criminal prosecution, which can result in a one-year county jail sentence and / or a fine of up to $ 10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions, including civil penalties of up to $ 2,500 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory reimbursement. The attorney general and local district attorneys can enforce the law.
Source: CA. DOJ