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Consumer Alerts

Lost Military Records Can Be Replaced

VETERAN ALERT: Lost Military Records Can Be Replaced

Wed, Feb 15, 2017

Military medical or personnel records can get lost or misplaced, which can be frustrating if a service member has passed away and the family would like the deceased person’s records for posterity.

These records may be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center by the next of kin, normally at no cost. Next of kin is considered the surviving spouse who has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother. Proof of death of the veteran must be provided.

“There are a number of reasons that a veteran or family member may want military separation documents, service personnel records or medical records,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These records are used for applying for veteran benefits, retirement preparation, funeral or even researching family military history.”

To release records, the National Archives requires the following information about the veteran:

  • Complete name used while in service
  • Service number
  • Social Security number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth

All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin. If the veteran is deceased, proof of death, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary when requesting documents.

Service information can be requested from eVetRecs online or by filling out an SF180 form and following the instructions to mail or fax the form. Urgent records requests can be made by adding the nature of the urgency and deadline in the comments section of eVetRecs or in the purpose section of the SF180 form.

The government provides basic military personnel and medical records information at no charge if the veteran was discharged after 1955. If the discharge occurred prior to 1955, the records have been archived and could be subject to a fee. If the request involves a service fee, the requester will be notified as soon as possible.

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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'Can you hear me?' Scam

'Can you hear me?' Scam

Wed, Feb 8, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are being victimized by con artists who use audio editing equipment to create false authorization recordings to make unauthorized purchases on credit cards or add-ons to utility bills. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has received a number of reports of the scam in which callers are asking “Can you hear me?” in order to elicit a “yes” response from the consumer which the scammer will then use for illegal or fraudulent purposes.

“This robocall scam can be dangerous if Arkansans don’t protect themselves,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is best to just hang up on the caller if you are suspicious.”

Attorney General Rutledge released to following tips to avoid this scam:

  • Use caller ID and let unknown numbers go to voicemail.
  • Avoid talking to unknown callers and hang up if you are suspicious.
  • Monitor bank and credit card statements, along with utility bills for any charges you did not make.

In this scam, the caller has reportedly asked questions such as “Can you hear me?” “Are you the lady of the house?” “Are you the homeowner?” “Is this <insert phone number>?” or “Do you pay the household telephone bills?” all hoping for the same result -- a “yes” answer that can be recorded for further use.

In addition to recording your voice to make a false authorization that can be played back to approve additional charges, by talking to unknown callers, scammers will know that the number is active and are more likely to sell the number and lead to more unwanted calls from disreputable solicitors.

Report this scam to the Attorney General’s office and also contact the Federal Trade Commission if an unauthorized credit card transaction has been processed or the Federal Communications Commission if an additional charge is added to a phone bill.

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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Scam artists posing as Attorney General’s Office

Scam artists are posing as the Attorney General’s Office

Wed, Feb 1, 2017

Scammers are posing as the Attorney General’s office to try and trick Arkansans into turning over personal information. The Attorney General’s office recently received reports of Arkansans receiving a phone call from a Utah phone number stating that the consumer needs to contact the Attorney General’s office to inquire about a legal account. This is a scam.

“These criminals know that their tactics have more credibility if they pretend to be Arkansas’s chief consumer advocate,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “They think they can trick consumers into turning over personal and financial information, ultimately giving the scam artists access to personal accounts. If an Arkansan receives one of these suspicious calls, hang up and contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@arkansasag.gov.”

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

  • These agencies also do not seek or accept payment in pre-paid gift cards.
  • If a consumer owes money, legitimate collectors must send a written validation notice.
  • Do not confirm or provide personal or financial information to an unknown person over the phone or internet.
  • If consumers file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, they will receive an acknowledgement letter or email that contains a complaint number. That number would never be referred to as a legal account.

Keep in mind that con artists do not follow the law anyway, so they disregard the do-not-call registry. And technological advances allow for Call ID spoofing, so that scammers can disguise the source of the calls.

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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An Eye for Detail Could Spot a Scam

An Eye for Detail Could Spot a Scam

Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Scammers are hacking into email accounts of realtors to take money from their clients. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission have received reports of a scam where a criminal goes through a realtor’s email looking for upcoming transactions. The hacker then poses as the realtor or title company representative and emails the hopeful homebuyer with “new” instructions to wire the down payment. But instead of the money going to the title company to secure the home, the money goes straight into the hacker’s account.

“Realtors pledge to protect and promote the interests of their clients,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And criminals are always on the lookout for ways to take advantage of and exploit trusting relationships. Avoiding this scam requires everyone to be diligent and use extreme caution when wiring money to avoid these sly scammers.”

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following tips to offer protections against this scam:

  • When it comes to financial transactions, be cautious doing business by email. Call and have an actual conversation with the realtor, title company or bank that you are dealing with. Emails can be hacked.
  • Never open attachments in emails if you are not absolutely sure of the source and were not expecting the email. The attachment may contain malware that can operate undetected on your computer, leaving you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Utilize respected malware and virus protection programs and keep them up to date.
  • When purchasing something online, make sure the URL contains “https,” which lets you know the web address is secure.
  • Never assume the number a person gives you is the correct phone number. Look up the number to assure you are communicating with the actual person or business, or use a phone number you have used to previously reach the person.
  • Utilize complex computer and email passwords and change them frequently to avoid computer hacking.

Email is not a secure way to send financial information. Emails requesting financial information should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

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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Million Dollar Giveaway? It May Be a Scam.

Million Dollar Giveaway? It May Be a Scam.

Wed, Jan 18, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are using the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) name to steal money from people across The Natural State. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office recently received complaints of Arkansans getting phone calls, often with a Jamaican area code, from someone claiming to be from the AGFC. The person receiving the call is told they are the winner of a $2.5 million giveaway. The only thing they need to do to claim their winnings is wire an $850 “processing fee.” This is a scam.

“Scammers know that pretending to be from a respected agency makes them more believable,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans must stay diligent and never wire money to someone they do not know. If you have to send money to get money, it is a scam.”

Attorney General Rutledge offered the following tips for anyone who receives this call or one similar.

  • A consumer should never have to pay something to receive a “free” prize. Be wary of anyone requiring payment in advance to obtain winnings.
  • Be cautious if someone asks that a fee be paid through a pre-paid credit card or by wiring money. If payments are made, the money may never be seen again. Legitimate organizations will accept standard and traceable forms of payments.
  • People who accept these offers become targets of other scammers when their information is shared or sold to others.
  • Never provide any financial account information to an unknown person or entity.
  • If the call is from a government agency, consider hanging up and calling the agency back on a phone number found on their website.

Although the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission does offer small prizes, such as free hunting or fishing licenses or fishing poles, they do not offer cash prizes. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission encourages Arkansans who receive this call to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, and if there are any questions, AGFC can be contacted at 501-223-6300.

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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Tax Protections for Military Families

MILITARY ALERT: Tax Protections for Military Families

Wed, Jan 11, 2017

LITTLE ROCK - Each year, many active-duty military families are taken advantage of when filing their taxes because they are not aware of the many protections available to them. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers safeguards that include tax deferment and state tax relief for qualifying service members and many of those members have calling the Attorney General’s office to get more details.

“Military service can put many unexpected stresses on families,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “But the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is in place to protect them, and it is important for all service members and their families to know the specific protections provided, especially while preparing to file taxes annually.”

The following is additional information on SCRA tax provisions to remind active-duty military service members of protections available to them this tax season:

  • State tax relief: The SCRA provides that a nonresident soldier's military income and personal property are not subject to state taxation if the soldier is present in the state only due to military orders. For example, if your state of legal residence is Arkansas and the military sends you to Colorado, you will not have to pay Colorado’s state income tax on military earnings. However, income taxes may be charged on any non-military income earned.
  • Tax rates: The SCRA prevents states from using the income earned by a service member in determining a spouse’s tax rate when they do not maintain their permanent legal residence in that state.
  • Military spouses residency relief: This SCRA provision extends tax protections to military spouses who meet qualifying factors such as accompanying the service member to a duty station state. Income earned by the non-military spouse while in the duty station state is not subject to taxation in that state.
  • Tax deferment: If a service member’s inability to pay their taxes was caused by their military service, service members can defer owed taxes for up to 180 days after release from service.

The IRS provides a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which offers free tax help to military service members. Contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office if you suspect SCRA rights were violated.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should 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 consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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