AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division sent notices of violations to 127 Texas businesses accused of price gouging during the state of disaster declared for Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas AG’s office said Monday, all of the cases involve consumer complaints against gas stations that allegedly charged $3.99 or higher for a gallon of unleaded gasoline or diesel.
“At the outset of Harvey, I made it clear that my office would not tolerate price gouging of vulnerable Texans by any individuals or businesses looking to profit from the hurricane,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We’ve given 127 alleged offenders an opportunity to resolve these issues with our office or face possible legal action for violating state law. Our investigation of other businesses into price gouging remains ongoing.”
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits anyone from taking advantage of a disaster declared by the governor and selling or leasing fuel or other necessities for excessive or exorbitant prices, the AG’s office said. The law authorizes the attorney general to file price gouging lawsuits, and seek refunds of money unlawfully taken from consumers, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation, and court orders to prevent future violations.
During the disaster, Attorney General Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division received approximately 5,500 price gouging complaints about businesses.
Many Texans emailed photos and receipts as evidence.
Numerous businesses receiving notices of violations are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Texans who believe they have been scammed or price gouged should call the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 621-0508, email email@example.com, or file a complaint here.