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Flooding prompts warning about price-gouging

(Radio Iowa) – Some two-dozen Iowa counties are declared disaster areas due to storms and flooding, so the Iowa Attorney General’s office is issuing a reminder about the state’s price-gouging regulations. Consumer protection division chief Bill Brauch says vendors are not allowed to overcharge for products and services in the affected areas.

“It applies for six months after the declaration of the disaster,” Brauch says. “Essentially, it says whatever price you charged before the disaster for that product or service, you shouldn’t be going a whole lot over that right now unless your costs have gone up, too.”

Brock says the regulations are meant to protect families from paying too much for temporary lodging, rebuilding supplies or other needs as they’re getting their lives back together. The rules went into effect to shield consumers after the floods of 1993.

“It’s not a situation where we’re trying to regulate prices, but we’re trying to protect people from unfair situations, being taken advantage of when they don’t have many choices,” Brauch says. “We’ve not had examples of that in Iowa in the past, but this rule’s in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Brauch also warns against hiring contractors to repair storm or flood damage without first checking their credentials.