Sen. Martin Looney urges people to be on the look out for price gouging. (WFSB photo)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -
With Hurricane Joaquin threatening the east coast, lawmakers are warning people about price gouging dangers.
State Senate President Martin Looney of New Haven was joined by several other senators, fire officials and city emergency personnel to urge consumers to be on the lookout.
They held a news conference Thursday at New Haven's Hall of Records on Orange Street.
Three years after Super Storm Sandy, homes are still being lifted and rebuilt along the Connecticut shore.
While homeowners are going over their evacuation route and keeping a close eye on the forecast, so are those inside New Haven's Emergency Operations Center.
Officials aren't just worried about the storm, but also for the real possibility of price gouging.
"Consumers need to take notice that they need not be taken advantage of by dishonest contractors who try to capitalize on an emergency situation," said Looney.
He added that Connecticut's anti-gouging law dates back to 1986 following Hurricane Gloria, when dry ice was in demand to keep frozen foods from spoiling.
"While a majority of businesses and contractors always do the right thing, past experiences have shown that price gouging is still an issue," Looney said.
Officials said dishonest contractors and business owners could take advantage of the potential extreme weather.
The state's price gouging laws protect vulnerable consumers by extending the state's ban to include services like lodging and other goods vital to health and safety.
Following Super Storm Sandy, legislators passed a bill to strengthen the law, expanding it from just goods to include services, like post-storm cleanup and repairs, and even hotel rooms are now included.
That means, the state will look at the price of goods and services during the declared weather emergency to see if it is excessive compared to the growing rate 30 days before the storm.
"When there is a storm coming and you need something to protect your family, it really doesn't matter how much it costs. You want it and the last thing you want to know is that you've been gouged and you've been taken advantage of," said Rick Fontana of the New Haven Emergency Operations Center.
If anyone notices price gouging, they can call 1-800-842-2649.