New Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee is asking Houston residents to report incidents of price gouging as the region copes with a winter storm that has left residents without power and running water while in many cases causing damage to homes.
Menefee said in a news release that during a declared state of emergency, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act makes it illegal for businesses or individuals to sell fuel, food, medicine, construction tools, building materials, lodging or other necessities at an "exorbitant or excessive" price. The entire state is in a state of emergency, and the county attorney's office said it is using complaints submitted online to pursue legal actions against those who are trying to take advantage of Houston-area residents in need.
Menefee said residents who suspect they have been victims of price gouging or other unfair business practices should keep receipts and take photos of products and their prices that can be submitted along with a report. Reports can be filed by text message to 346-354-7459, online at harriscountycao.org/report-price-gouging or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Instructions for filing reports are available at harriscountycao.org/pricegouging.
“This historic weather event is incredibly challenging for Harris County residents who are already under strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic," Menefee said in a news release. "Overpaying for necessities to survive freezing temperatures is the last thing folks need to worry about. I urge you to report price gouging on our website. We will hold businesses and individuals accountable for unfair practices."