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NJ Investigating Price Gouging Claims

The vast majority of Jersey residents are helping friends and relatives- and complete strangers recover from the hurricane, but a few low-lifes are trying to cash-in on the situation.

Gas Prices
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

State officials are promising this will not be tolerated.

The Christie Administration announced today that the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has deployed teams of investigators to visit retail establishments in northern and southern New Jersey, in response to approximately 100 calls from consumers alleging that gas stations, sellers of generators, hotels, and other merchants that sell other essential items, have violated state law by engaging in price gouging after the Governor’s declared state of emergency.

“We are actively investigating calls from across our state, alleging that gas stations have raised their prices by 20 to 30 percent in one day, that hardware stores have doubled the price they charge for generators overnight, and that hotels have excessively increased the price of rooms for residents who are without electricity or who have been evacuated from their homes,” said Governor Christie. “We will not hesitate to impose the strictest penalties on profiteers who, in direct violation of our consumer protection laws, seek to capitalize on the misfortune of others in the midst of a crisis and recovery period.”

Eric Kanefsky, the Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, says under the law, any retailer who has increased prices of their goods more than 10 percent from what it was prior to the emergency is violating the state’s price gouging laws – unless there is some legitimate reason for the increase – and “we will be after them, and we will enforce the laws, and as consumer you have the right to notify us and we will look into it.”

He says a special hotline number has been set up – 1- 800- 242-5846 – and “they can call and leave a message for us, report the name of the retailer – give us the information they have – if they have any receipts hold on to them and leave us their name and number…we’re going to have a team of investigators – some of whom are already out investigating these- and all them will be out investigating any complaints or allegations.”

Kanefsky adds price-gougers “should rest assured that it’s going to end up only to their detriment – cause we can and will crack down on them and we can and will penalize em…every time they made a sale before the storm they were generating receipts, they were generating records – now they’re generating receipts, generating records and they’re generating customers who anecdotally are reporting these calls into us…it’s not real hard to piece the information together.”

He also says over the past few days his Division has received “a substantial amount of allegations of price gouging throughout the state.”

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