South Carolina’s price-gouging law in now in effect, according to Attorney General Alan Wilson.
In a release, the attorney general’s office said the law would have gone into effect either by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s state of emergency declaration or President Donald Trump’ national emergency declaration.
The state’s price-gouging law normally goes into effect during times of disaster, such as prior to a major hurricane. The law says that it’s unlawful to “rent or sell or offer to rent or sell a commodity at an unconscionable price.” The law doesn’t expire until the declarations expire or are terminated.
Normal changes in a price of a good based off the season or demand is not illegal under the price-gouging law, according the attorney general’s office, and such increases may occur.
“We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and other commodities as defined by the statute,” Wilson said in the news release. “By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice.”
Wilson added that even substantial price increases are difficult to prove as illegal price-gouging in court.
The attorney general’s office says if you believe you’re a victim of price-gouging, note the time, place, address and name of the business where you purchased the item, and the price you paid. Also document the time, place, address and name of other nearby businesses with the same item and the price the other businesses have listed for that item. Document everything with pictures if possible, and send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org call 803-737-395 and leave a message.
Anyone found guilty of price-gouging has committed a misdemeanor and faces a fine of up to $1,000, up to a 30 days in jail, or both.