New online form to report price gouging during COVID-19 pandemic
Published 2:29 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020
FRANKFORT – Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced new resources for consumers to report suspected price gouging to his office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers can now complete an electronic price gouging complaint form by visiting ag.ky.gov/pricegouging.
Previously, there was no electronic means available for consumers to file price gouging complaints. The new form allows the submission of complaints from electronic devices, including smart phones, computers, or tablets. The fillable form prompts consumers to provide information about the suspected price gouging, including the item purchased, the price of the item, and the location where the item was purchased. The completed form is then sent to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to review and investigate.
Cameron also announced updates to the menu features of the Consumer Protection Hotline (1-888-432-9257) to make it easier for Kentuckians to file price gouging complaints via phone.
“We will take swift and aggressive action against individuals who illegally profit from the circumstances surrounding COVID-19,” said Cameron. “Kentuckians are already facing changes and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus, and we want to make sure that reporting suspected price gouging does not create additional stress. These changes allow us to access the information needed to more quickly investigate price gouging claims on behalf of Kentuckians.”
Since the price gouging laws took effect in early March, the Attorney General’s Office has received 84 complaints of suspected price gouging in the Commonwealth. The Office of Consumer Protection is actively investigating the complaints.
When filing a price gouging complaint, consumers are encouraged to report as many details as possible about the suspected price gouging, including the name and address of the seller/retailer, the item purchased, the price of the item after the emergency declaration and the price of the item before the emergency declaration, if known. If a refund is sought, consumers should also keep receipts from the transaction to show proof of purchase.
KRS 367.374 outlines the sale or rental of goods and services when a state of emergency is in effect, and states that no person shall sell or rent an item for a price “which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration.” Goods and services included in this prohibition include consumer food items; goods or services used for emergency cleanup; emergency supplies; medical supplies; home heating oil; building materials; housing; transportation, freight, and storage services; and gasoline or other motor fuels.
The Attorney General can seek restitution for victims of price gouging and may seek civil penalties against sellers of up to $25,000 for multiple price gouging violations within a 24-hour period.
To file a price gouging complaint, visit ag.ky.gov/pricegouging or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.