Tarrant County is reminding the public that price gouging is illegal in Texas.
"Price gouging will not be tolerated in Tarrant County," Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said. "All reports of price gouging will be referred immediately to the Texas Attorney General for investigation and prosecution as required by law."
According to Tarrant County officials, Texas law prevents price gouging during a a disaster.
On Feb. 12, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration as severe winter weather "posed an imminent threat of widespread and severe property damage, injury, and loss of life due to prolonged freezing temperatures, heavy snow, and freezing rain statewide."
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Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley issued a declaration of disaster on Feb. 15 because of the ice, snow, and below freezing temperatures that created impassible roads, accidents, and damage to critical infrastructure, Tarrant County officials said
On Feb. 19, President Joe Biden declared a major disaster for dozens of Texas counties, including Tarrant, after a week of freezing temperatures that left many without power or water.
The Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division investigates reports of price gouging on a case-by-case basis.
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According to the Texas Attorney General's Office, high prices don't necessarily mean price gouging is occurring, but if businesses set exorbitant prices after a disaster has been declared, that could be price gouging.
Texans who believe they have found price gouging should call the Texas Attorney General's toll free complaint line at 800-621-0508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints also may be filed at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.
Tarrant County officials said that if you see price gouging, note the store or vendor that had the item as well as any product details, including the price, size, and brand. Make sure to note the time, date, and location where you saw the product.
Individuals reporting price gouging should take pictures if possible and include how they addressed the situation, such as listing the names of people they spoke with about the price issue.
Anyone caught price gouging in Texas could face civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation, Tarrant County officials said. Penalties can also increase if the person impacted is elderly.