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'Don't do it': Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney warns against price gouging after winter storms

Officials warn that price gouging won't be tolerated in Tarrant County, especially with items such as bottled water or plumbing supplies.
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TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — Authorities in Tarrant County issued a warning Tuesday for anyone thinking of price-gouging items such as bottled water or plumbing materials after last week's storms. 

"Don't do it," Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a news release. 

The extreme winter weather last week left millions of Texans without power or water, including Tarrant County. Over the weekend, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas in wake of the winter storms.

Wilson reminded the public that price gouging is illegal in Texas and state law prevents it when there's a disaster.  

The Texas Attorney General's Office added that high prices don't necessarily mean price gouging is occurring. But if businesses set "exorbitant prices" after a disaster has been declared, that could be price gouging.

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Anyone who believes price gouging is happening can report it by calling the Texas Attorney General’s complaint line at 800-621-0508 or via email at consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov. Price gouging complaints can also be filed online. 

People who want to make a report should write down the store or vendor, the item that is being sold at an exorbitant rate and any other product details, like the price, size and brand of the item, officials said. 

The public is also asked to record the date, location and time they saw the price for the product and take pictures if possible. 

Lastly, officials encourage people who file a complaint to include how they addressed the situation, such as listing the names of people they spoke with about the price issue. 

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"Anyone caught price gouging in Texas could face civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. Penalties can go up even more if the person impacted is elderly," Wilson said in the release.