BBB reminds businesses, consumers price gouging is against California law during a state of emergency

The Better Business Bureau reminds businesses and consumers of the California law prohibiting excessive price hikes during a state of emergency following California State Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaration on Aug. 18, 2021 in response to the Caldor Fire. According to CalFire, the Caldor Fire is 20 percent contained, has burned more than 200,000 acres, and has destroyed close to 3,000 structures in its way causing mandatory evacuations in and around the South Lake Tahoe area.

“Local businesses may be overwhelmed with the influx of customers following recent evacuations in the South Lake Tahoe area. We want to help businesses avoid potential problems as our community comes together to help one another in a time of need,” said Lynn Conner, President of the Sacramento Better Business Bureau.

Industries affected by the consumer protection laws during a state of emergency include, but are not limited to, hotels and other lodging accommodations, gas stations, grocery stores and rebuilding industries.


If you need to make preparations to stay at a hotel

Know that according to California law, under Penal Code 396, 30 days after a state of emergency is declared, it is illegal for a business or other entity to sell their goods or services for more than 10 percent of their regular rate. This includes hotels, motels, the sale of food items, gasoline and any goods or services used for emergency cleanup, emergency supplies and building materials. Consumers who are told otherwise should file a complaint with their local Better Business Bureau, the California Attorney General and their local District Attorney’s Office.

There is a penalty up to $2,500, one year of jail time, or both per violation.

To file a citation, visit or call (800) 952-5225.

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