Price gouging was the top concern among New Jersey consumers in 2012 and the surge in illegal pricing complaints came in the days and weeks post-Sandy.  That's according to data from the State Division of Consumer Affairs.

(Staff file photo)

In the days following the historic storm, the state received 2,164 complaints alleging that gas stations, hotels and other businesses had gouged them.

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa and the Division of Consumer Affairs to date have filed 24 lawsuits against businesses for alleged price gouging.

"We alerted consumers to look out for price gouging before Superstorm Sandy hit and encouraged them to contact us if they saw prices jump more than 10 percent," said Chiesa.  "Our top priority immediately following Sandy was investigating these complaints and we confirmed that a relatively small number of businesses allegedly did gouge consumers."

After price gouging, the following round out the Top 10 Consumer Complaint categories for 2012:

  • #2      Home Improvements                      1,528 complaints
  • #3      Motor Vehicles                                 1,349 complaints
  • #4      Telemarketing                                  845 complaints
  • #5      Loans                                               414 complaints
  • #6      Professional Services                     338 complaints
  • #7      Debt Collection                                304 complaints
  • #8      Internet Sales/Goods                       264 complaints
  • #9      Banks/Financial                               240 complaints
  • #10    Health Clubs                                    214 complaints

In all, the Division received 14,416 consumer complaints in 2012.  The announcement coincides with the beginning of National Consumer Protection Week, which runs from March 3 through March 9.