In just the first five days of North Carolina's state of emergency, the attorney general has already received 137 price gouging complaints from across the state, including two from Charlotte.

"The complaints we've received to date have been focused primarily around bottled water, around gasoline and around generators," North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said.

Once a customer files a price gouging complaint, Stein said his office starts investigating. In best case scenarios, he said the office can get businesses to come into compliance without taking legal action, like in 2016 after receiving 1,500 price gouging complaints related to Hurricane Matthew.

In other cases, he said businesses are able to prove the price hikes are justified.

However, there are also blatant cases. Records show the North Carolina Attorney General's Office has secured more than $12,000 worth of refunds for people during emergencies since 2008, imposing $40,000 in fines on seven business. Stein said the state is prepared to take similar action in the weeks ahead.

"We just want to make sure that no businesses out there, the small percentage, that they don't take advantage of the disaster and people's desperation to take an extra buck from people," Stein said.

You can file a price gouging complaint in North Carolina and South Carolina online. In North Carolina, you can also file a complaint by calling 877-5-NO-SCAM.

Stein said he expects complaints after the hurricane too, specifically for tree removal services and building contractors who try to charge people more than they should when it's time to clean up and rebuild.

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