Attorney General: Watch out for price gouging as NYers deal with poor air quality

June 8, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Attorney General Letitia James has cautioned New Yorkers to be on high alert for price gouging of essential items such as masks, air purifiers, and air filters, as the state’s air quality plummets due to the smoke from Canadian wildfires.

The plumes of smoke from the fires raging in Canada have enveloped New York, severely affecting air quality and making it hazardous for specific health groups to venture outside. In the wake of this, James is urging the public to report any instances of price gouging, a practice that involves selling essential goods or services at abnormally high prices during market disruptions or emergencies, which is prohibited under New York’s price gouging statute.

“The poor air quality impacting our state should not be an excuse for companies to increase profits on essential items,” said Attorney General James. “My office has zero tolerance for price gouging of any kind, and if New Yorkers notice abnormally high prices for essential items, I urge them to report it immediately. I also urge New Yorkers to follow local health guidance to protect their health and stay safe.”

New York law forbids businesses from taking undue advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to their health, safety, or welfare at unconscionably excessive prices during emergencies.

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The price gouging statute applies to vendors, retailers and suppliers across New York state, covering goods and services crucial for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers or the general public. Essential items include food, water, gasoline, generators, batteries, flashlights, hotel lodging, and various transportation options.

When reporting price gouging incidents to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), consumers are asked to provide detailed information about the increased prices, the dates and locations where they observed the inflated prices, and to share sales receipts and photos of the advertised prices if available.

New Yorkers who suspect price gouging is taking place are encouraged to report their concerns to the OAG by filing a complaint online or calling 800-771-7755.

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