CONSUMER ALERT: CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION HELPS ARKANSANS

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February 26, 2014

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans engage in countless consumer transactions every day, and most of them take place without a hitch. Sometimes, though, Arkansas consumers may encounter problems in their day-to-day dealings.

When consumers face problems such as errors on bills, defects in products or outright scams, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division may be able to assist them.

In fact, last year, the Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $1.85 million for consumers who needed help resolving their disputes. Since Attorney General Dustin McDaniel took office in 2007, consumers have received nearly $11.4 million as a result of informal mediation efforts by the division.

Because National Consumer Protection Week is observed the first week of March each year, McDaniel today issued this consumer alert to remind Arkansans about the resource available to them in his Consumer Protection Division.

“It is our goal to do everything within our power to help a consumer reach a positive resolution when they call our office with a complaint, whether it’s related to a misunderstanding about a routine business transaction or a clear instance of fraud,” McDaniel said. “We have helped consumers save a dime or two each month because of an error on a cell phone bill, and we have also helped recover thousands of dollars for consumers who have fallen victim to scam artists.”

In 2013, the Consumer Protection Division recovered $1,857,522.63 through mediation on behalf of consumers. Also, many consumer complaints are positively resolved without any related financial recoveries.

The division handled nearly 7,500 consumer complaints last year.

By filing a consumer complaint and taking advantage of the resources available to them, consumers can often achieve positive results through the division’s informal mediation process instead of legal action, McDaniel said.

Consumer complaints are handled by investigators who are specially assigned to deal with complaints in particular fields, such as mortgages, credit cards, or automobiles. This specialization allows consumer complaints to be mediated quickly and efficiently.

The investigators work with attorneys in the Consumer Protection Division to identify companies that engage in unfair or illegal business practices. In instances of fraud or violations of the law, the division may go to court to have the illegal activity stopped and to obtain relief for affected victims.

During National Consumer Protection Week, consumers across the country are encouraged to make better-informed decisions and take full advantage of their consumer rights.

The Consumer Protection Division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, contains tips and resources to equip consumers with the information they need to navigate the consumer marketplace and avoid scams and fraud.

The user-friendly website offers information about common consumer issues and contains up-to-date alerts about scams. The site’s content is divided into nine specific categories that allow consumers to easily find the tools they need to address a particular concern.

To file a consumer complaint, or for more information about consumer issues, contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.

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