LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Authorities are warning residents affected by recent area wildfires to beware of business owners seeking to take advantage of the emergency.

(Credit: Los Angeles County Department of Public Affairs)

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By law, businesses are barred from raising the price of critical goods and services more than 10% withing 30 days of a declared emergency. Repairs, reconstruction and other contractor-related services are subject to an extended 180-day period.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles and Riverside counties on Friday as the fires continued to burn.

Price gouging restrictions apply to any business in the region, even if the businesses were not directly impacted by the fires. Common goods and services that often see increased prices during emergencies include essentials such as food, water, gasoline and housing — such as hotel or motel rooms and short-term rentals.

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Violations are a misdemeanor subject to fines of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of price gouging is urged to save all receipts and call the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at 800-593-8222 or file a report online.

More information about how to avoid price gouging and scams after a disaster can be found on the department’s website.

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