Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fwd: Attorney General Consumer Alert

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: AGNews <>
Date: May 31, 2006 12:07 PM
Subject: Attorney General Consumer Alert
To: AGNews <>

An Attorney General Consumer Alert has been issued.

Please click the web address below to view the alert online.

Please do not hit Reply to send a message to Attorney General
Crist or the Attorney General's Office. This email address cannot
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General's Office, please go to

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The text version of the Consumer Alert is below.

Crist: Prepare Yourself - Hurricane Season Starts Tomorrow

Crist: Prepare Yourself - Hurricane Season Starts Tomorrow

TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today encouraged
Floridians to be ready for hurricane season, which begins tomorrow,
June 1. Crist called on residents and visitors to the state to be
aware of the dangers the season can bring and urged a state of
readiness for the storms predicted this season.

Since May 21, sales tax charges have been waived on certain hurricane-
related commodities to encourage preparation and readiness. Crist
thanked those consumers who took advantage of the sales tax holiday
and encouraged those who still need to stock up on supplies to do so
early and not wait until a storm is only hours away.

"We've seen how destructive storms can be and how important it is to
be prepared," said Crist. "Lives can be saved and property loss can be
mitigated if we act before storms arrive."

Last week, the federal government predicted a "very active" hurricane
season, with 13 to 16 named storms, 8 to 10 of which will becoming
hurricanes, including 4 to 6 that will be classified as "major"
hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.

Crist joined other state officials in calling for Floridians to
prepare early for the storm season. He also reminded citizens to
beware of businesses or individuals overcharging for food, water, ice,
gas, lodging and generators and for necessary materials needed once an
emergency has been declared by the governor. This practice, known as
price gouging, is against Florida law.

Those who suspect price gouging after a storm should call the Attorney
General's hotline at 1-866-966-7226, and investigators will look into
the complaint.

During the past two record-setting hurricane seasons, the Attorney
General's Office received more than 14,000 complaints through its
price gouging hotline. The office conducted thousands of preliminary
investigations, initiated 83 formal investigations and filed 17 price
gouging lawsuits against hotels, generator businesses, tree removal
companies and other businesses. To date, the Attorney General's Office
has recovered more than $1.8 million in restitution or reimbursements
for Florida consumers from price gouging settlements and other
resolutions. Other investigations and settlement negotiations are

Crist also cautioned consumers to be wary of business scams that might
arise in the wake of storms, including building repair and tree
removal companies that come into storm-affected areas. The Attorney
General said residents should deal whenever possible with established
local companies when they contract for repairs or arrange financing to
pay for any repairs that might not be covered by insurance.

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