Oklahoma’s Emergency Price Stabilization Act is now in effect for 16 Oklahoma counties after Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency due to the severe storms, straight line winds and flooding that started over the weekend.
The counties included in the declaration are: Caddo, Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Garfield, Grant, Greer, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pawnee, Payne and Pottawatomie.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Oklahoma’s price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10% in the price of most goods and services when a state of emergency has been declared.
“This weekend’s severe storms left a trail of devastation across the state, damaging personal and business property that will need to be repaired or replaced. While the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans are focused on helping their neighbors in the aftermath, we have seen a few cases of price gouging and fraudulent claims in the past, so consumers need to be alert,” Pruitt said.
The price gouging statute was adopted following the May 1999 tornadoes that caused significant damage across a large portion of Oklahoma.
“This statute is meant to protect Oklahomans during some of their most vulnerable times,” Pruitt said. “Our hope is that knowledge of the law will prevent artificial price increases and remind anyone considering such action that they may face criminal or civil action.”
The statute states that no person for the duration of a declaration of emergency by the governor or by the president, and for 30 days thereafter shall sell, rent, lease or offer to sell, rent or lease for delivery in the emergency area any goods, services, dwelling units or storage space in the emergency area at a rate or price, which is more than 10 percent above the rate or price charged by the person for the same or similar goods, services, dwelling units or storage spaces immediately prior to the declaration of emergency unless the increase in rate or price is attributable to price increases in applicable regional, national or international petroleum commodity markets or only factors unrelated to the emergency and does not include any increase in profit to the seller or owner.
Additionally, the act is in effect for another 180 days for prices to repairs, remodeling and construction.
Oklahomans who suspect price gouging should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit at www.oag.ok.gov or by calling (405) 521-2029.