SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Attorney General announced Monday that he sent 127 businesses notices of violations for price gouging across the state during Hurricane Harvey.
All of the consumer complaints to the Attorney General’s Office for gas prices occurred where people were allegedly charged $3.99 or more per gallon of gas.
“At the outset of Harvey, I made it clear that my office would not tolerate price gouging of vulnerable Texans by any individuals or businesses looking to profit from the hurricane,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Our investigation of other businesses into price gouging remains ongoing.”
Paxton’s office received more than 5,500 complaints from consumers during the storm, though most of the complaints and notices were from the Dallas - Fort Worth area.
According to state law, “The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits anyone from taking advantage of a disaster declared by the governor and selling or leasing fuel or other necessities for excessive or exorbitant prices. The law authorizes the attorney general to file price gouging lawsuits and seek refunds of money unlawfully taken from consumers, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation, and court orders to prevent future violations,” the AG’s office said in a press release.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in late August as a strong Category 4 hurricane. Areas all along Texas’ gas-producing coast were hit hard by either strong winds or catastrophic flooding.
In the days that followed, fears of a gas shortage caused panic among consumers, which in turn caused hourslong gas lines.