Complaints of price gouging emerge from Kentucky consumers

Complaints of price gouging emerge from Kentucky consumers
Empty shelves at grocery stores are prompting some to turn to online shopping, where sellers are raising prices. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is investigating reports of price gouging as consumers anticipate disruptions in the availability of common goods because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that the office has received 22 complaints of price gouging statewide. Two complaints came from Jefferson County.

No other details could be provided during the investigation.

“It’s our responsibility to investigate those (complaints),” Cameron said, “and make an assessment about what next steps are.”

State law defines price gouging as prices that are “grossly in excess” of regular prices.

Penalties for anyone attempting to gouge consumers are “a civil monetary penalty of an amount not to exceed” $5,000 for the first offense. Penalties could reach $25,000 for repeated violations.

On Thursday, consumers emptied local store shelves in an attempt to stock up on supplies.

Cameron said the law applies to goods sold at retail outlets, online or by individuals, and covers essential items including cleaning supplies.

“Cleaning supplies, which really are no surprise,” Cameron said, “given that folks are generally trying to take the precautions necessary to insure that they keep themselves safe from the virus.”

Suspected cases of price gouging can be reported to the Consumer Protection Hotline at (888) 432-9257.

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