NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned businesses Thursday against price gouging as Tri-State area residents stocked up on major supplies ahead of the first snowstorm of the new year.

Schneiderman wrote to the vendors, reminding them that General Business Law prohibits increasing the costs of essential items and services during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market.

As the snow began to fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the state.  Meteorologists predict the frigid, windy snowstorm could bring gusts of up to 45 mph and up to 10 inches of snow in some parts of New York.

The attorney general asked residents to be aware of price gouging.  Those who notice sharp increases in the cost of items such as food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights should file a complaint with his office.

Schneiderman said the rule also applies to tree trimming and snowplowing services.

Price gouging was a problem in the days after superstorm Sandy struck the Tri-State area in October 2012. Dozens of gas stations in New York City and the surrounding suburbs reached settlements after Schneiderman accused them of price gouging.

“In a time of emergency, you cannot charge unconscionably excessive prices,” Schneiderman said in May. “We will not tolerate that sort of conduct in the state of New York.”

Check Out These Other Stories From

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE