Oklahoma AG Warns Of Possible Price Gouging After Tornados, Storms

Tuesday, June 4th 2013, 4:35 pm
By: News 9

After two weeks of deadly and extreme weather, many Oklahomans cleaning up after the storms say they've seen prices for rental properties and building materials soar.

Several counties are in a state of emergency because of storm damage, and it's illegal for businesses to price gouge. Businesses are not supposed to raise rates more than 10 percent above what they were before the storm.

Violators can face civil and criminal penalties such as fines and jail time.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak.

But Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt warns some unscrupulous businesses may take advantage of storm victims. He's passing out scam prevention tips to make residents aware of what to look out for.

"We have had investigators on the ground since shortly after the tornado, educating our citizens about the inability for folks to come in and gouge them for rental and storage facilities and rental cars and bottled water."

The May 20 tornado damaged Michael Gillespie's house in Moore. He says a hotel in Midwest City that normal charges $70 per night, charged him $100.

"It's pretty shady. And you just remember those businesses and you don't support them during and after the storm."

Pruitt is warning residents to take the time to compare prices and rates before buying anything. He says if you see price gouging, the best way to report it is to take a picture of it -- such a snapping a photo of gas prices or a contract -- and send the information to the attorney general's office. Residents can visit the attorney general's website, or call 405-521-2029.