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Consumer Alerts

Pet Owners Beware of Ransom Scams

CONSUMER ALERT: Pet Owners Beware of Ransom Scams

Wed, Apr 26, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are hunting families with lost pets. Con artists scour social media sites looking for families who have recently posted that their beloved pet is missing. These scammers then contact the family and say they have the pet and will return it for a sum of money, but the scammer does not actually have the pet. Many families are so desperate for their four-legged family member to return home that they are willing to pay the ransom, no questions asked. The con artist runs away with the money, and the pet owner is left without their pet and less money.

“Many of us treat our pets like family members, so when one goes missing, our hearts break,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is shameful that these criminals would take advantage of someone suffering through the loss of a pet.“

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • Be cautious if your pet is lost and receive a call from someone claiming to have the animal and asking for money in return if a reward was not initially offered.
  • Ask questions about the pet that only someone who is with the animal would know before turning over any money.
  • Do not turn over any money without proof the person has your pet.
  • Always offer to meet the person in a public place and never give the person on the other end of the phone your address.

This scam has been reported in communities across Arkansas, with some families even reportedly turning over a few hundred dollars to the scammer.

With people and pets spending more time outside during the spring and summer months, pet scams tend to increase this time of year, including stealing pets from unattended backyards and vehicles. Scammers have been known to steal photos of pets and try to sell them online, and some con artists will post as animal rescue charities using names similar to reputable charities in an effort to steal your money. Thoroughly research perspective pet sellers and charities to make sure you are dealing with reputable organizations.

Contact local police if you believe you may be being extorted.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Statewide Prescription Drug Take Back is April 29

CONSUMER ALERT: Statewide Prescription Drug Take Back is April 29

Wed, Apr 19, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas has a prescription drug epidemic. According to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and Medical Examiner’s Office, 335 Arkansans died from drug overdoses in 2016, with nearly 40 percent of those deaths from Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties.

“These numbers are staggering and should be a wakeup call to us all,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is important for Arkansans to know that oftentimes teens first use prescription pain killers by stealing the pills right from a family member’s medicine cabinet. By cleaning out our medicine cabinets and turning the expired and unused medications over to law enforcement during a prescription drug take back event, lives can be saved.”

Attorney General Rutledge is reminding all Arkansans about the many drop-off locations available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 29.

Rutledge released the following list of medications that will be accepted at these events across the State:

  • Opioids, such as OxyContin
  • Stimulants, such as Adderall
  • Depressants, such as Ativan
  • Other prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Vitamins
  • Pet medicines
  • Medicated ointments and lotions
  • Inhalers
  • Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)
  • Medicine samples

Medications may be returned in the original bottle or in any other container for increased privacy.

Properly destroying these medications protects the environment. Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting waters, which could contaminate food and water supplies. Many medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Turning over these medications at Take Back Day events also reduces the risk of accidental poisonings by children, seniors or pets, as well as reduces the risk of drug abuse.

To find event sites and year-round drop-off locations near you, visit the updated ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s office also hosts take back events at mobile offices around the State.

Rutledge is partnering on the Prescription Drug Take Back with the Arkansas Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association and re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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VETERAN ALERT: Commissary Changes to Benefit Military/Veteran Families

VETERAN ALERT: Commissary Changes to Benefit Military/Veteran Families

Wed, Apr 12, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Much needed changes are coming to commissaries on military bases including the one at Little Rock Air Force Base in Central Arkansas. These changes aim to provide better quality products at a lower price for those who have given so much for our country. One way this will be done is by adding new, private labels, or store brand, products. Another way is to focus pricing to better reflect the cost of living in different regions across the country and world.

“I applaud the Defense Commissary Agency for changing to better serve military families and veterans,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Those who serve our country often rely on commissary services in our State and across the world, and it is important to do what we can to help military service members, veterans and their families.”

In response to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Defense Commissary Agency released the following plan to better serve our military families and veterans:

  • Use an updated methodology to measure savings, which will more accurately reflect the savings patrons experience at their local stores
  • Optimize product assortment so that the best products are offered to patrons at a low cost
  • Offer high-quality alternatives to national brands, which will offer additional savings
  • Set a variable pricing system that will better reflect the prices of items at commercial grocery stores

The new savings method breaks commissaries into eight regions, seven across the United States and one international, and adjusts prices to better compete with the same items being sold in that region. Previously the cost of items were the same at commissaries across the world.

The private label, store brand options that will be offered are "Freedom's Choice™” and "HomeBase.™" Freedom’s Choice products are food items, and products are nonfood items, such as paper products and other household items.

The changes come after the 2017 NDAA, which required the agency to find ways to reduce costs and maintain patron savings.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association and re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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CONSUMER ALERT: Scammers Use Severe Weather to Target Homeowners

CONSUMER ALERT: Scammers Use Severe Weather to Target Homeowners

Wed, Apr 5, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – It is springtime in the South, and that means severe weather is routinely passing through the Natural State and scam contractors are also traveling around to take advantage of homeowners seeking repairs. Severe storms have been causing damage to homes and businesses across Arkansas. The Attorney General's office is reminding Arkansans that con artists may seek to take advantage of these severe weather victims by promising services and not following through, leaving you to still pick up the pieces from your property damage and with less money in your wallet.

“It is pathetic when these scam artists try to take advantage of homeowners who are simply trying to recover,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Many of these bad actors walk door-to-door in ravaged neighborhoods trying to sell their work and assist property owners, but they never even plan to follow through.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the below tips to avoid falling victim to these con artists:

  • Find a reputable contractor by asking friends and family for recommendations.
  • Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
  • Avoid any home repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide a written contract.
  • Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
  • Check at least three references from the contractor.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
  • Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
  • Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that the project will be completed. Never make the final payment until the work has been inspected.
  • Remember that all contracts resulting from a door-to-door sale must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
  • Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Car Warranty Scams Aim to Steal Cash

CONSUMER ALERT: Car Warranty Scams Aim to Steal Cash

Wed, Mar 29, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are reporting unscrupulous sales people who aim to scare them into purchasing unnecessary third-party car warranties to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. The sales pitches are usually over the phone with scammers posing as a representative of a car dealer, manufacturer or insurer and telling consumers that their car warranty is about to expire. The scammers hope to obtain personal or financial information about the consumer can be convincing.

“Scammers use high pressure tactics to trick consumers into turning over private information in hopes of remaining under the safety net of a car warranty,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office has recently seen an uptick of consumers receiving these robocalls. It can be difficult to discern if these types of calls are scams, but best practice is to never give personal information over the phone, especially if the phone call is unsolicited.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers spot this type of scam and avoid falling victim:

  • Never give out personal or banking information in response to a phone, email or mail inquiry. Contact the entity requesting the information directly through a different method to verify that it is a reputable company with which you have an existing relationship.
  • Wiring money is like giving cash away. If you wire money, there is no protection for you if you later learn that the recipient is not who they claimed to be.
  • Investigate offers before paying any money.
  • Review bank statements and credit card statements regularly. Monitor financial account statements for any unusual activity and promptly report any unauthorized charges to the account provider.

If the scammers’ sales pitch has you concerned that you may require an extended warranty, first check your manufacturer’s warranty to verify the coverage you already have and if you choose to purchase an extended warranty, review the exclusions before purchasing. Many extended warranties are very expensive and the coverage will be much more limited than the coverage included in the manufacturer’s warranty. Research different companies to determine if the product is needed and right for you.

Consumers can file complaints about suspected scam calls with the Federal Communications Commission and the Attorney General’s office.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Interest Rates Capped for Military Families

VETERAN ALERT: Interest Rates Capped for Military Families

Wed, Mar 22, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Our military men and women deserve our utmost respect, but there are bad actors who take advantage of military service members and their families, especially when it comes to lending money.

Creditors and lenders are already prohibited by law from taking advantage of active duty military members, but the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is meant to provide additional safeguards while they navigate deployment, change of duty station orders or other unique circumstances military families face, especially related to buying or owning a home.

“Banks cannot charge more than 6 percent interest on mortgages for military families during service and up to one year after service ends,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “This allows families to plan ahead and prevents creditors from selling, foreclosing or seizing an active duty service member’s mortgaged property during service.”

The SCRA also provides protection requiring a judge to stay mortgage proceedings if a service member shows that military service has affected his or her ability to comply with mortgage obligations.

Additionally, the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement requires five major mortgage servicers – Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – to notify service members who are 45 days delinquent on mortgage payments that they are entitled to SCRA protections and are eligible for financial counseling from Military OneSource and Armed Forces Legal Assistance.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help service members understand and use loan protections provided under the SCRA:

  • Inform the mortgage company that you are seeking protection under SCRA.
  • Provide the lender with written notice of military service.
  • Send the lender a copy of the orders calling the service member to active duty.
  • Research time constraints that could impact eligibility for some protections.
  • Consult the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Office with questions regarding qualifications for SCRA.

In 2015, Rutledge launched the first-ever Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s office to assist active duty military service members, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer related issues, Veterans Treatment Courts and many other collaborative efforts.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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