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New Jersey Residents Reporting Irene-Related Price Gouging

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Reports of price gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene are coming in from New Jersey residents.

Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company says customers are calling with complaints that they've been charged thousands of dollars to pump water out of basements when it should have cost just hundreds.

Allstate says one senior citizen reported being charged $6,500, including $1,000 in cash, for two hours of pumping.

Thomas Calcagni, director of the state's Division of Consumer Affairs, says the department is "aggressively investigating" each allegation of price gouging. Those include allegations of overcharging for bottled water and gasoline.

"People are obviously very sensitive to this issue right now and we want them to be if they see any suspicious pricing going on we want to know about it so we can investigate," Calcagni told 1010 WINS.

New Jersey law prohibits raising prices more than 10 percent during or after a state of emergency.

Calcagni says the state's price gouging statute is triggered during a declared state of emergency to protect consumers. It remains in effect 30 days after the order is terminated.

Customers who think they may be victims of price gouging should call consumer affairs at 1-800-242-5846.

Have you noticed prices going up? Let us know below...

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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