Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway and Gov. Beshear Warn Against Storm Related Price Gouging
Attorney General Jack Conway is putting Kentucky businesses on notice that price-gouging will not be tolerated in the wake of last week's deadly tornados. At General Conway's request, Gov. Steve Beshear signed a consumer protection executive order over the weekend to implement Kentucky's price-gouging laws statewide as of Friday, March 2, 2012.
The executive order empowers the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, those who sell gasoline, generators, building supplies, chain saws, hotel rooms and other necessary goods and services at a price that is "grossly in excess" of the pre-declaration price.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the many families and communities in Kentucky affected by Friday's historic tornados," General Conway said. "As the difficult clean-up begins, I want to ensure that those who are suffering are not victimized again by unscrupulous businesses. My office stands ready to investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks excessive profits during this time of emergency."
The emergency order issued by Gov. Beshear will remain in effect for 30 days.
"As Kentucky continues to recover from the severe damage of last week's storms, it's important our citizens have the protection necessary to rebuild their lives and homes without fear of price gouging," Gov. Beshear said. "The consumer protection executive order I signed on Friday gives them that added protection and sends a signal that we won't tolerate any deceitful business activity during this critical time."
General Conway's Office of Consumer Protection has already received a number of complaints related to possible price-gouging at gas stations in Eastern Kentucky.
"It is vital that consumers continue to be our eyes and ears across the Commonwealth to report individuals or businesses that may be gouging consumers. Complaints related to price gouging can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or consumers can call my dedicated price-gouging hotline at 502-696-5466."
In 2009, Attorney General Conway fined eight gas retailers more than $107,000 for violating the price-gouging statute in the wake of Hurricane Ike and the subsequent windstorm in Kentucky. The Office of the Attorney General received nearly 2,000 phone calls and emails from consumers in the days and weeks following the disaster.
Attorney General Conway also warns consumers that scam artists and fly-by-night contractors may also try to prey on their misfortune. Consumers who need storm repair or clean up services should follow these tips.
- Never pay in advance for repair work or materials. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work. If an advance is needed to purchase materials, offer to purchase the materials yourself;
- Use local, reputable contractors for repairs, if possible. If local contractors bring in out-of-town workers, ask who will be responsible for their work if it is not satisfactory;
- Ask if the contractor is licensed, bonded (if required by the city or county), and insured;
- Check unknown companies out with the Better Business Bureau (Louisville/Western KY 1-800-388-2222; Lexington/Eastern KY 1-800-866-6668; Cincinnati BBB for residents in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties 1-800-471-3015) or call the Consumer Protection Division 502-696-5466 to see if information is available about the company;
- Demand a written contract. If possible, get estimates from several contractors;
- Be suspicious of unfamiliar, out-of-state vehicles and those who offer repair work at unreasonably low prices. Contact local law enforcement about your suspicions.