South Carolina’s price gouging law in effect during national, state emergencies

South Carolina’s price gouging law in effect during national, state emergencies
(Source: Gray News)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Attorney General’s Office wants to protect consumers during the national and state emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and Gov. Henry McMaster’s state of emergency declaration on Friday means the state’s price gouging law is in effect.

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The law makes it illegal to “rent or sell or offer to rent or sell a commodity at an unconscionable price.”

It’s important to keep in mind that normal changes in the prices of goods and services are not considered price gouging.

“We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other commodities as defined by the statute,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice.”

If you feel like you are the victim of price gouging there are certain steps that you can take to help our office investigate. Please do the following:

  • Note the time, place, address, and name of the business
  • Note the price you paid
  • Note any prices nearby and get the same information on those businesses
  • Take pictures that identify the business, along with the price
  • Provide your name and contact information

The S.C. Attorney General’s Office will need that information in order to conduct a thorough investigation. Please email any examples or documentation to pricegouging@scag.gov or call 803-737-3953 and leave a message if you have witnessed a likely violation.

Anyone found to have violated the state’s price gouging law is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

The price gouging law will remain in effect until the declaration expires or is terminated.

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