Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is urging Arkansans to be on guard following the recent severe weather and flooding currently affecting many parts of the State.
“Despite these difficult times for many Arkansans, scam artists are already seeking to take advantage of those who have had damage to their home or business,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge all Arkansans to use caution as they begin the clean-up process and to call my office if they suspect any type of fraud or price gouging. These are unfortunate circumstances especially around the holidays, but the Attorney General’s office is here to protect Arkansans.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson issued disaster declarations for twelve counties yesterday due to the heavy flooding and damage throughout the State caused by this past weekend’s storms. At this time, the counties include: Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Drew, Franklin, Logan, Madison, Ouachita, Perry, Polk, Searcy and Washington.
Act 376 of 1997, which prohibits businesses from price gouging during a state of emergency, is now in effect in the 12 counties that the Governor has declared disaster areas. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as food, fuel, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medicine, bandages and construction materials. The price gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, State or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body if necessary to protect the lives, property or welfare of the citizens. For home repairs, the law remains in effect for 180 days.
A violation of Act 376 is a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Arkansans who believe they have encountered a disaster scam or price gouging should contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or file a consumer complaint at ArkansasAG.gov.