Buyer Beware: High Emotions Could Lead to High Prices; Protect Yourself From Price Gouging

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As residents continue to rebuild from Hurricane Irma, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office reminds homeowners to be aware of scams and price gouging.

The storm left many uprooted trees and littered lawns. While cleaning up is a top priority, it’s also a prime time for people to try and take advantage of hurricane victims during this time of need.

If you plan to have trees removed or other home repairs done, follow these steps to avoid being scammed or overpaying:

-          Watch out for anyone who approaches unsolicited about tree removal

-          Get multiple written statements

-          Ask whether debris removal is included in the estimate

-          Research the company and ask for references

-          Check for proof of insurance and follow up with the insurer that their policy is current

-          Never pay the full amount up front

-          Do not make a final payment until you are satisfied with the work

The Price Gouging Statute covers only essential commodities. A “commodity” means any good, service, material, merchandise, supplies, equipment, resources, or other article of commerce, and includes, without limitation, food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum products, and lumber necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency. The law also requires those selling goods and services to possess an occupational license.

If you suspect price gouging, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-966-7226 or visit: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/Contact.nsf/PriceGouging!OpenForm