TOPEKA – (June 25, 2015) – The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division returned more than $8.5 million to consumers and taxpayers last year, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.
In its annual report filed today with the governor and Kansas Legislature, Schmidt’s office reported $8.57 million in savings and recoveries to Kansas consumers and the state treasury in calendar year 2014. In Schmidt’s first four years in office, the division recovered a total of $117.8 million.
“It is a good day when our office can return money to a consumer who has been wronged by a scam or deceptive business practice,” Schmidt said. “While these are not often large amounts of money, our staff is dedicated to protecting Kansas consumers and getting back any funds that were unlawfully taken from them.”
Schmidt said his office has also increased efforts to criminally prosecute scam artists. These efforts resulted in two convictions in 2014. Several other cases remain pending.
The Roofing Registration Unit completed its first full year of operations, with 1,041 contractors being registered and in good standing to provide roofing services in Kansas as of December 31, 2014.
The office also added a new Livestock/Brand Inspection Unit in 2014, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The Unit combats cattle theft throughout the state by responding to requests from local law enforcement for assistance in investigations.
The office also continued its efforts to educate Kansas consumers on ways to avoid scams. Schmidt and his staff made 124 presentations on topics such as identity theft and scam prevention. The consumer protection website, www.InYourCornerKansas.org, was visited by thousands of Kansans each week, providing a user-friendly way for Kansas consumers to learn how to protect themselves and file complaints.
The Consumer Protection Division is led by Deputy Attorney General Jim Welch. Its staff of investigators and litigators also includes former U.S. Attorney for Kansas Jackie Williams. 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. He currently serves as a member of the Consumer Protection Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General and is past chair of that committee.
The 2014 Consumer Protection Annual Report is available online at http://1.usa.gov/1KeUnHa .