Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan has set up a website for residents to file complaints about price gouging.
During a disaster, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act makes it illegal for a company to sell or lease fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price.
“Unfortunately, there seem to always be people who will take advantage of a crisis situation,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Our office wants you to reach out to us to let us know about a price gouging situation.”
The County Attorney’s website explains the details you need to provide to file a complaint. It explains the process the Office will use to investigate a complaint and how it will be dealt with if it is determined that price gouging occurred.
Since the COVID-19 emergency declaration was issued, the County Attorney’s Office has received 115 price gouging complaints. Thirty-five have been investigated. Each case is looked at individually. Investigators will contact a store and determine how much a store paid for an item and how much they are marking it up. Some products are more expensive for a store to purchase now; higher prices are not necessarily price gouging. Five cease and desist letters have been issued so far. If a company refuses to comply with the letter, a lawsuit may be filed.
The County Attorney’s website with information on price gouging is:
You can file a complaint from that website or email: ConsumerHelp@cao.hctx.net.