MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As Florida residents and visitors stock up on hurricane supplies in advance of Irma’s approach, expect long lines and short supplies of the most sought after items like water, batteries and gas.READ MORE: Banksy 'Charlie Brown' Sells For $4 Million Art Miami While Child Prodigy Thrills Crowd With His Artwork
To ensure that retailers are charging a fair price state Attorney General Pam Bondi activated Florida’s price gouging hotline for people to call if they suspect they are being taken advantage of.
The opening of the hotline comes as Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties in response to threats posed by Hurricane Irma—now a Category 5 hurricane.
“Floridians need to prepare now and they should not be inhibited by unlawful price increases on supplies necessary to brace for a major hurricane strike,” said Bondi in a statement. “By reporting suspected price gouging you can protect yourself and your fellow Floridians.”READ MORE: Miami Dolphins Praise Rookies, Tua Tagovailoa's Accuracy
The state’s gouging hotline is (866)-9-NO-SCAM.
What you should be doing to Prep For Hurricane Irma.
State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential items, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency.
Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period, in addition to other civil penalties that may apply.MORE NEWS: UM Women’s Basketball Star Kelsey Marshall Is South Florida Native Thriving On and Off The Court
State law also criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of an occupational license. Violators of the law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.