AG’s Office recovers $12 million for Kansas consumers in 2021

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:37 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says his Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $12 million for taxpayers in 2021.

In its yearly report filed on Monday, Sept. 19, with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and the State Legislature, AG Schmidt said his office reported more than $12 million in savings and recoveries to Kansas consumers and the public treasury during the calendar year.

During his administration, Schmidt said the division has recovered more than $266 million - 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, Schmidt said two perennial categories - identity theft and general services - ranked among the top for both investigation requests received and closed. He also said the office launched a special investigation related to dramatic increases in natural gas prices charged to residents during the unprecedented February cold snap that year.

The AG noted that charitable organizations, fundraisers and solicitors’ filing requirements transferred from the Secretary of State’s Office to his in late May 2021. And, in the last six months of the calendar year, he said more than 2,500 charitable organizations registered with the office.

Schmidt indicated that the Consumer Protection Division also continued its efforts to educate residents about how to avoid scams. He and his staff participated in 14 public education events, including presentations to civic groups, providing information at the county fair and speaking at other community events.

Schmidt said many of the events continued to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, however.

The AG also noted that nearly 37,000 unique users accessed the consumer protection division website in 2021. The site provides a user-friendly way for residents to learn how to protect themselves and file complaints.

Additionally, Schmidt said the Consumer Protection Division staff fielded more than 11,000 phone calls and answered more than 21,000 emails last year.

Schmidt noted that Deputy Attorney General Fran Oleen leads the Consumer Protection Division and Special Agent in Charge Tonya Hutchings leads the team of investigators. He said he is also a former assistant attorney general for consumer protection and served under former Attorney General Carla Stovall.

To view the full 2021 Consumer Protection Annual Report, click HERE.