Erie County Office of Public Advocacy and the Division of Consumer Protection are warning consumers of fraudsters looking to take advantage of consumers during the Blizzard of 2022.
Price Gouging is illegal under General Business Law Section § 396-r. Contract services for storm-related damage, both during and after a natural disaster, are also covered by the state's price gouging statute.
The NYS Attorney General shared a post about price gouging before the storm. Here are the details of that release.
In an attempt to protect themselves when hiring contractors' consumers should do their due diligence and look for the following:
- Obtain at least three contracts before proceeding with a contractor.
- If the contract is over $500, be sure it meets the requirements of a valid NYS Contract.
- Be sure anything the contract states is in writing.
- Pay at most 50% of the job as a deposit.
- Get References – does the contractor have a website, Facebook, or Better Business Bureau page you can review.
- Is the contractor licensed and insured? Be sure to obtain a copy of both. Seek a certificate of insurance from the contractor.
- Is a permit needed for the work you have done? If so, does the contractor have it?
- Know your rights.
The NYS Attorney General's Office handles price gouging complaints. If you believe you have been a victim of a price gouging complaint, please report it here. One can reach the Buffalo Regional Attorney General's Office at 716-853-8400, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Should you have questions about price gouging, you can reach out directly to the NYS Attorney General's Office or the Erie County's Office of Public Advocacy at 716-858-6169 or via email at email@example.com.