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Beware of price gouging, county consumer protection says

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Price gouging can be found in essential commodities such as gasoline. (File)

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — While residents prepare for Tropical Storm Ian’s incoming, the Pinellas County Consumer Protection warns against price gouging in essential commodities such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment needed as a direct result of a declared emergency.

In areas covered by the state of emergency, Floridians can report instances of severe price increases on items needed to prepare for the storm. Florida’s price gouging law only applies to services essential to preparing for, or recovering from, a storm within the areas of a declared state of emergency. The County Consumer Protection encourages residents who suspect price gouging to report it to authorities.

The state of emergency for Tropical Storm Ian is declared for the following counties: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie.

Residents who suspect price gouging can report it to Pinellas County Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200 or online at www.pinellascounty.org/consumer and are also encouraged to report it to the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.

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