Price gouging law now in effect in S.C. after declarations of emergency

Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Source: Raycom Media)
Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Gray News)
Updated: Mar. 15, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced Friday that the state’s law against price gouging is now in effect.

According to officials, the law would have gone into effect following a declaration of emergency from either Gov. Henry McMaster or President Donald Trump.

McMaster declared a state of emergency on Friday afternoon and President Trump issued the national declaration just a few hours later.

According to state law, it is unlawful to “rent or sell or offer to rent or sell a commodity at an unconscionable price.” The law will remain in effect until the declaration ends.

“We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and other commodities as defined by the statute,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement. “By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice,” Wilson said. “We wish to emphasize, as we have seen in the past, that price gouging under the current law is difficult to prove, even substantial price increases. What might seem large to the public may not be illegal in court.”

Anyone who is found guilty of violating the state’s price gouging law will be fined up to $1,000, serve up to 30 days in jail, or both.

Officials with the Attorney General’s Office urge anyone who believes they are a victim of price gouging to take the following steps:

  1. Note the time, place, address, and name of the business
  2. Note the price you paid
  3. Note any prices nearby and get the same information on those businesses
  4. Take pictures that identify the business, along with the price
  5. Provide your name and contact information

Provide the above information to the Attorney General’s Office so a thorough investigation may be started. Do that by emailing or calling 803-737-3953.

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