DA: Consumers should file complaints if they become victims to unfair business practices during gas shortage

Alabama

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Officials with the Lee County District Attorney’s Office say they have received several complaints about higher gas prices since the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline late last week.

The pipeline delivers about 45% of the fuel used along the Eastern Seaboard. It shut down Friday after a ransomware attack by a hacker group callings itself DarkSide.

According to the Lee County District Attorney’s Office, customers are reporting that they have paid nearly 24% more than the average fuel price.

Unfortuanately, according to the Lee County District Attorney’s Office, price gouging laws only come in to effect when a State of Emergency has been declared by Governor Kay Ivey. The governor has not declared a State of Emergency due to the situation created by the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack.

According to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the following is the criteria for price gouging should a state of emergency be declared by the governor:

Although what constitutes an unconscionable price is not specifically set forth in state law, a price that is 25 percent or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days—unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost—is a prima facie case of unconscionable pricing. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

While a State of Emergency is currently not in effect, the Lee County District Attorney’s Office is encouraging consumers to file official complaints with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office if they believe they have been victim to unfair business practices or fraud due to the cyber attack.

You can click here to access the web form to file a complaint. You can also place a call to the number 1-800-392-5658.

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