Kansas, Missouri AGs cracking down on price gouging after getting dozens of complaints

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A $10,000 fine: That’s what price-gougers could be facing in Kansas for every item they sell.

It’s a big fine for a big problem, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said he’s not afraid to use it.

Schmidt said cleaning supplies top the list of the most popular items targeted by greedy sellers. His office is already investigating several retailers after receiving complaints from the public.

“One involves a significant price increase,” Schmidt said. “It’s about a doubling in price compared with where the price was on March 11 before the disaster and is also significantly higher than where other retailers in the area are selling the product for today.”

Schmidt said his office has received about 25 complaints so far of possible price gouging.

The tough measures against price gouging are part of a special law that can be enacted after the governor declares an emergency – which Gov. Laura Kelly did on March 12. The law was passed in 2001 in the wake of Sept. 11.

“The key word in the statute is unjustifiable,” Schmidt said. “Is it passing through actual costs where the real reason for the increase was caused by a wholesaler?”

Or was the increase caused by a normal market fluctuation? Or was it clearly price gouging? Something that can often be determined by comparing one retailers prices to the competition.

In Missouri, more than 50 complaints have been filed so far with Attorney General’s Eric Schmitt’s office.

“Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, things that are essential household items, cleaning supplies — that’s what we are getting calls into our office about,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt said he’s asked members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to send any complaints from Missourians to his office to investigate.

The Attorney General is also partnering with Amazon to crack down on Missourians using the online forum to gouge consumers. Amazon is analyzing its data and sending the names of greedy sellers to the AG’s office.

If you have evidence of price gouging, the Missouri and Kansas attorneys general would like to hear from you. Find Missouri’s AG contact information here and Kansas’ AG contact information here.

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