Attorney General Ashley Moody launched a new app on Monday built to help consumers report price gouging during a declared state of emergency.
Moody launched the NO SCAM app during a press conference in Tampa as hurricane season is just underway.
The app allows consumers to quickly and effectively report price gouging in real-time and allows Moody’s office to receive those reports immediately.
App users can attach photos, copies of receipts or any other relevant information from their smartphone.
“Price gouging during a declared state of emergency can leave Floridians feeling defenseless and cause a sense of urgency for needed commodities,” Moody said. “The stress caused by an approaching storm and its disruptive, and sometimes, devastating aftermath should not be further intensified by price gouging.”
Price gouging occurs when retailers artificially inflate prices of the goods they sell knowing desperate consumers will pay more. Price gouging during hurricane preparations or during recovery happens with items consumers need that might be in short supply like gas, water, ice and batteries.
Under Florida’s price gouging statute it is against the law during a declared state of emergency to sell essential commodities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that item during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the pricing by showing increased costs or changed market conditions resulting in increased costs.
“It is our hope that this new app will assist us in raising awareness about price gouging laws and deter those who might otherwise consider violating the law, while at the same time help our consumer protection investigators get the reports and supporting information they need in real-time, so they can respond immediately to thwart any alleged illegal activity,” Moody said.
The Attorney General’s office often has a hard time proving price gouging. The app will provide useful evidence to help make a case under the state’s price gouging law.
In addition to photos and receipts, consumers can also provide a brief narrative report through the app to help document potentially illegal pricing.
Consumers can download the new app on both Apple and Android smartphone devices.