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March 5, 2013

Anytime there is a crisis, there's sure to be unscrupulous characters looking to take advantage of it. That's the message of a report by the state Department of Consumer Affairs, which said it saw a surge in complaints of price gouging in the two months following superstorm Sandy.

The Department said it received 2,164 complaints from consumers in November and December of 2012, alleging that gas stations, hotels, and other businesses had gouged them -- increasing prices more than 10 percent. Thus far, the state has filed 24 lawsuits against these businesses.

This is National Consumer Protection Week, and the state is looking to publicize its services by asking residents to visit its website.

In 2012 the state received 14,416 complaints. Second to price gouging during Sandy, were 1,528 complaints related to home improvements, followed by 1,349 complaints regarding motor vehicles, 845 related to telemarketing, 414 about loans; 338 about professional services, 304 regarding debt collection, 264 about sales through the Internet, 240 about banks, and 214 about health clubs.

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