A New Jersey Congressman is introducing legislation to combat price gouging after natural disasters.
Democrat Frank Pallone says his proposed Stand Up Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission to issue regulations to prohibit excessive pricing of consumer goods or services within 180 days of the declaration of a major disaster and determine the fines for violators.
He says no one should have to pay abusive prices for essentials such as food, water, and gasoline when they’re a victim of a natural disaster.
“We had so many cases of this during Sandy. And it seems like it’s getting worse now. 17,000 cases have been reported in Florida alone. And I know in the situation in Puerto Rico we hear about it all the time.”
Beverly Brown Ruggia with New Jersey Citizen Action says that price gouging is despicable.
“Sadly, we are going to have more and more natural disasters. And it’s going to take law enforcement, unfortunately, and government regulation to make sure that when those disasters happen that people who are in crisis will not be deceived, treated unfairly, or abused by a greedy business sector.”
New Jersey has a state law that prohibits price increases that are more than 10 percent above the typical price before a state of emergency was declared. Pallone says his legislation would provide protections for consumers nationwide.
“For New Jersey it’s more of a backup. And hopefully they’ll be more staff and people that could help with actually pursuing some of the perpetrators of the law. And if you had a situation where New Jersey really wasn’t doing what they were supposed to, then people could go to the FTC as an alternative.”