NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office has issued an alert for consumers and a warning for businesses about price gouging.

“Price gouging will not be tolerated in Tarrant County. All reports of price gouging will be referred immediately to the Texas Attorney General for investigation and prosecution as required by law,” said Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson.

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After the winter storm that left millions of Texans without electricity and water there are concerns about businesses hiking prices for products ranging from bottled water to plumbing materials.

A nearly empty shelf of drinking water is seen at a drugstore on March 10, 2020. (credit: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

While Texas law prevents price gouging when there’s a disaster, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigates reports of price gouging on a case-by-case basis.

On February 15, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued a declaration of disaster because of the ice, snow and below freezing temperatures that created impassible roads, accidents, damage to critical infrastructure and more.

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The Texas Attorney General’s Office notes that high prices don’t necessarily mean price gouging is occurring. But if businesses set exorbitant prices after a disaster has been declared, that could be price gouging.

Texans who believe they have found price gouging should call the Texas Attorney General’s toll free complaint line at 800-621-0508 or email a complaint to the state. Complaints can also be filed online on the attorney general’s website.

If you see price gouging, note the store or vendor that had the item as well as any product details, including the price, size and brand. Make sure to note the time, date and location where you saw the product. Take pictures if possible and include how you addressed the situation, such as listing the names of people you spoke with about the price issue.

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Anyone caught price gouging in Texas could face civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation and penalties can go up more if the person impacted is elderly.

CBSDFW.com Staff