August 21, 2023
(213) 332-6497, email@example.com
Consumers impacted by Tropical Storm Hilary should report suspected price gouging
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors signed a declaration of local emergency on August 20, 2023, as Tropical Storm Hilary made its way through Southern California. The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) advises business owners and operators of hotels and other lodging that they must stay in compliance with state and Los Angeles County laws which protect consumers from price gouging. Price gouging during a state of emergency is also illegal under Penal Code Section 396.
In most circumstances, businesses may not increase the price of goods and services more than 10 percent for consumers impacted by an emergency. This prohibition also applies to hotel and motel rooms, rental housing, and short-term rentals. This price-gouging protection is currently in effect across all of Los Angeles County, not just the areas immediately impacted by Tropical Storm Hilary.
If you believe you have been improperly overcharged for goods, services, or housing, keep your records and receipts, and file a price gouging complaint using DCBA’s “Stop Price Gouging” online reporting tool. You can visit stoppricegouging.dcba.lacounty.gov to get started. There, you can pinpoint the location of the incident and upload documents directly to DCBA’s investigators for follow-up. You can also reach DCBA by phone at (800) 593-8222.
DCBA advises business owners and operators of housing and lodging accommodations to maintain detailed records of pricing before, during, and after the declared emergency. Failure to comply with the California Price Gouging Law (Penal Code 396) can result in fines up to $10,000 or one year in jail, or both.
DCBA staff is monitoring listed prices of goods and services in surrounding communities and will work with local prosecuting agencies to further investigate reports of alleged price gouging.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our residents and will not hesitate to take action against unscrupulous business owners attempting to break the law and take advantage of our community,” said Rafael Carbajal, Director of DCBA. “We urge the public to report any instances of suspected price gouging.”
Price gouging protections will remain in effect for 30 days after a declared emergency and can be renewed. Price-gouging protections for any contractor-related services are in effect for 180 days.
For more information about price gouging and other common consumer issues after a disaster, visit dcba.lacounty.gov/disasterready.
Since 1975, the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) has been the local consumer protection agency serving County consumers, tenants, homeowners, immigrants, and workers. DCBA provides a wide range of services that aim to foster a fair and dynamic marketplace and enhance the economic wellbeing of our communities. This includes investigating consumer fraud complaints, enforcing the County’s minimum wage, tenant and worker protections, and providing access to justice programs. More information can be found at dcba.lacounty.gov or by calling (800) 593-8222.