TOPEKA – (September 19, 2022) – The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $12 million for Kansas consumers and taxpayers last year, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
In its annual report filed today with the governor and Legislature, Schmidt’s office reported more than $12 million in savings and recoveries to Kansas consumers and the public treasury in calendar year 2021. During Schmidt’s administration, the division has recovered a total of more than $266 million, by far the most in state history.
“As the challenges brought on by the pandemic began to wane, our Consumer Protection Division worked hard to return to Kansans money that was wrongfully taken,” Schmidt said. “Assisting consumers who were scammed, ripped off or defrauded in getting their money back remains a top priority for our office.”
In a sign of a return to more normal business operations, two perennial categories – identity theft and general services – ranked among the top categories for both investigations requests received and closed. In addition, the office launched a special investigation related to dramatic increases in natural gas prices charged to consumers during the unprecedented February cold weather storm.
Charitable organizations, fundraisers and solicitors’ filing requirements transferred from the Kansas Secretary of State to the Office of the Attorney General in late May 2021. In the last six months of the calendar year, more than 2,500 charitable organizations registered with the office.
The Consumer Protection Division also continued its efforts to educate Kansas consumers about avoiding scams. Schmidt and his staff participated in 14 public education events, including presentations to civic groups, providing information at county fairs, and speaking at other community events. Many of the events at which the office traditionally provides consumer education and outreach continued to be impacted by the pandemic. Nearly 37,000 unique users accessed the consumer protection website, www.InYourCornerKansas.org, in 2021. The site provides a user-friendly way for Kansas consumers to learn how to protect themselves and file complaints. Additionally, the Consumer Protection Division staff fielded more than 11,000 phone calls and answered more than 21,000 emails last year.
Deputy Attorney General Fran Oleen leads the Consumer Protection Division, and Special Agent in Charge Tonya Hutchings leads the team of investigators. Schmidt is a former assistant attorney general for consumer protection, a position he held during the administration of former Attorney General Carla Stovall.
The 2021 Consumer Protection Annual Report is available online at https://bit.ly/3Ugznr3.