Almost 7,000 complaints of price gouging ahead of Hurricane Irma: Florida attorney general

  • Hurricane Irma has yet to hit Florida, but price gouging is already underway, the state's attorney general told CNBC on Friday.
  • So far, her office's hotline has received almost 7,000 complaints, the equivalent of 100 an hour, she said.

Hurricane Irma has yet to hit Florida, but price gouging is already underway, the state's attorney general told CNBC on Friday.

So far, her office's hotline has received almost 7,000 complaints since it was activated Monday evening.

"That's over 100 an hour," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"It's been unbelievable."

Irma, one of the most powerful storms in a century, tore through the Caribbean and is set to hit Florida this weekend.

The "extremely dangerous" hurricane was downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 early Friday, but it still packed winds as strong as 150 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

"We are out in the field all over this state so people can have the fuel that they need, essential commodities such as water, etc.," Bondi said.

She asked that people who witness price gouging take photos of the establishment's name and the price of the item. A complaint came be filed at myfloridalegal.com.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Rick Scott called the idea of price gouging "disgusting."

"This is the time to help our neighbors. This is not the time to take advantage of our neighbors," he said.

Meanwhile, it's not all bad behavior by businesses.

"We're really seeing a lot of good of people working together, along with the bad people who I will put out of business," Bondi said.

Chevron has been "great" after complaints about a franchise owner, she said, and Amazon has been as well. She also said airlines like JetBlue, American, Delta and United have been "unbelievable," waiving pet and change fees and capping prices on flights.

Consumers had complained this week that airfares out of the state had skyrocketed. However, high prices close to a departure date with minimal availability are not unheard of.

— CNBC's Leslie Josephs and Reuters contributed to this report.