NewsEvents

Rutledge Announces Anti-Robocalls Principles

Multifaceted approach with public and private coalition to block illegal calls

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a bipartisan, public/private coalition, with every state attorneys general and the District of Columbia and 12 phone companies, agreement to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls. This agreement sets the framework of prevention and enforcement by protecting phone users from illegal robocalls and making it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

"Today's announcement was a collaborative effort between public sector and private industry to protect Arkansans by utilizing all available technology to stop these illegal calls," said Attorney General Rutledge. "I have lead the charge in Arkansas by working with telecom providers to hold them accountable and ensure providers are implementing technology to stop these criminals from robbing the citizens of Arkansas and Americans of their hard earned money."

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

· Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers,

· Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools,

· Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source,

· Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic,

· Assisting attorneys’ general anti-robocall enforcement by,

· Knowing whom their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated,

· Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general,

· Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls,

· Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.

Rutledge has been paving the way for telephone carriers to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through conversations with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Rutledge has also expressed support for the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act and demanded the FCC take action in the Truth in Caller ID Act rulemaking process against illegal spoofing.

In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with state legislators to pass legislation to require telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The coalition of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.

Rutledge and Gov. Hutchinson Allocate $1.5 million to Launch Free Veterans Legal Service Program

Bowen School of Law students to provide pro bono legal services to veterans

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced each office would allocate $750,000 for a total of $1.5 million to create the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic. The first clinic of its kind in Arkansas, the program will enable enrolled Bowen law students to provide pro bono legal services to veterans throughout the State.

“The Veterans Legal Services Clinic will provide essential pro bono services to the vast population of Arkansas veterans who reside in the state and it will give future attorneys the hands-on training, education and opportunity to give back to our nation’s heroes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This legal clinic will be the first line of defense to protect veterans and also alert my office when scam artists are attempting to illegally take advantage of veterans.”

The legal clinic will serve as the only pro bono services center for veterans in the state of Arkansas, which is home to over 250,000 past, and present service members. Under the supervision of a clinical facilitator, enrolled students will be trained to represent veterans on various legal issues. The clinic will also provide free continuing legal education for practicing attorneys on veteran specific legal issues, and establishing partnerships between participants with veterans in need of legal assistance.

Attorney General Rutledge is requesting consumers with questions, or to file a consumer complaint to visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

Rutledge: Mountain Home Gunsmith Sued for Deceiving Customers and Failing to Provide Services or Refunds

Investment Grade Firearms cheated consumers out of more than $17,000

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed suit against Jayson Cotter, owner of Investment Grade Firearms (IGF), for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Consumers from across the nation hired Cotter for gunsmith work, but he habitually failed to return consumers’ parts or firearms and refused to provide refunds of upfront payments.

“Cotter repeatedly used dirty tricks to deceive consumers into sending him gun parts and large sums of money for work that was never performed,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Cotter and other bad businesses must be held accountable.”

Jayson Cotter of Mountain Home, Arkansas sold gunsmith services through his website, www.Investmentgradefirearms.com. Consumers who contract with IGF for gunsmith services typically ship their firearms, parts and accessories, along with their complete, upfront payments, with expectations that they will receive their modified firearms within reasonable periods of time. Eight consumers have filed unresolved complaints with the Attorney General claiming that Mr. Cotter failed to deliver their completed firearms or refund their payments, sometimes for well over a year, and refused to respond to their phone calls or emails requesting status updates on prepaid orders.

Mr. Cotter was arrested on July 31, 2019 and booked on a felony charge of theft of property in Baxter County. The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation, and additional counts are possible. The Sheriff’s Office has been working to return parts and firearms to their rightful owners for several months, but many consumers are still waiting to be made whole.

Attorney General Rutledge is requesting restitution, civil penalties, and injunctive relief and demands a jury trial. Victims of these business practices should file a consumer complaint on ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

Rutledge to Host Retiree Resources Event in Central Arkansas

Retirees can look us in the eye and ask questions about how to protect their finances

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced registration is open for the free regional Rutledge Retiree Resources event to be held Thursday, September 5 in Little Rock. This will be the fifth retiree event held as a part of statewide educational series hosted by Rutledge. The agenda includes programs designed to educate retirees about how they can protect themselves from pervasive and vicious scam artists.

“Face-to-face meetings allow retirees to look us in the eyes and ask questions directly about how they can protect their finances,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans should enjoy retirement by spending time with family and friends, instead of having to worry about losing their hard-earned savings to lazy, low-life con artists.”

Attendees will hear from the Attorney General’s public protection experts about how to guard themselves from scams and identity theft, proper prescription drug disposal, resources available regarding nursing homes and home care and how to protect finances.

The event will be at The Church at Rock Creek, 11500 West 36th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. For those interested in attending this free educational event or future events, register today. Lunch will be provided.

Rutledge Retiree Resources have been held in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, DeWitt and Hope.

Rutledge: Voyager to Shut Down and Pay as Part of Settlement for Ripping Off Veterans in Exchange for Pensions

Settlement requires Voyager Financial to pay $2.7 million to impacted vets

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the filing of a Stipulated Final Judgment and Order against central Arkansas owner Andrew Gamber; Voyager Financial Group, LLC; BAIC, Inc.; and SoBell Corp. for the brokering of contracts that offer high-interest credit to veterans in exchange for investors illegally acquiring rights to receive future pension payments. These businesses and their former owner are permanently prohibited from offering these illegal agreements.

“Scam artists will stop at nothing to try to poach our veterans’ pensions despite state and federal protections,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We will always go after those who try to take advantage of our veterans and their much deserved pensions.”

The settlement alleges violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Constitution. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau joined Attorney General Rutledge in the investigation and settlement of claims against Voyager. The Company and its owners are permanently banned from brokering, offering and arranging agreements between pension recipients and third parties. Defendants must cooperate fully with the Attorney General and Bureau to determine the identity and location of, and the amount of injury sustained by, each consumer.

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions by Voyager Financial Group or its owners, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

Rutledge Delivers Statewide Advisory to Alarm Companies

Says, ‘working with businesses in advance will alleviate potential illegal activity’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is sending an advisory letter to residential alarm companies due to an alarming number of complaints against these businesses. In 2018, Rutledge’s office received over 100 complaints against alarm businesses who subjected consumers to aggressive door-to-door sales practices, deceptive marketing and refused to honor timely contract cancellations. The advisory will educate businesses on illegal business practices as well as warn the bad actors of the consequences for the use of misleading and deceptive tactics.

“My office has received too many complaints against alarm companies, and this advisory is an opportunity to educate companies about their obligations and to inform potential buyers of their rights,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Working with businesses in advance will alleviate potential illegal activity and prevent many consumers from jumping into contracts.”

Rutledge’s advisory highlights provisions of the Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), with specific requirements each company, contract and employee must comply with:

  • At every interaction, the salespersons must clearly disclose which company they represent and that their purpose is to sell goods or services.
  • Misrepresenting the nature of the contact as a quiz, survey or model home offer or anything other than a sales contact is illegal.
  • Alarm companies must provide oral and written notice of the consumer’s three-day right to cancel at the time of the sale.
  • Salespersons and written contracts must clearly disclose the total price, down payment, unpaid balance, the number, amount and due dates for payments, and accurately describe the goods and services sold.
  • Automatic renewal of professional home security contracts after the initial contract term may only be in successive monthly terms.
  • Contracts shall conspicuously state that the consumer has the right to terminate the contract without additional penalty at the end of the initial term.

Violations of HSSA or DTPA may be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation with enhanced penalties for elderly and disabled victims.

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions by an alarm company, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

August
27
Tuesday

Stone County Resources Day

Mountain View Senior Center
210 School Avenue

Mobile Office
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Lance Bonds
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
August
29
Thursday

Crittenden County Resources Day

West Memphis Senior Center
318 West Tyler Avenue

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Mike Allen
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Scams and Identity Theft Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
September
5
Thursday

Retiree Resources - Little Rock

Retiree Resources

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Church at Rock Creek
11500 West 36th Street, Little Rock
Register

Senior adults are invited to hear presentations about:

  • Consumer protection tips
  • Home care resources
  • Identity theft
  • Prescription drug disposal
  • Senior scams
  • Telemarketing fraud

Lunch will be provided. For questions or to register by phone, call (501) 682-2007.

 9:00 AMVIEW 
September
5
Thursday

Bradley County Resources Day

Warren Senior Citizens Center
96 North Etheridge Street

Mobile Office
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Herschel Tillman

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
10:30 to 11 a.m.

 9:30 AMVIEW 
September
10
Tuesday

Searcy County Resources Day

Senior Activity and Wellness Center
509 Zach Road

Mobile Office
10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Kenny Cassell

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11:00 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
September
13
Friday

Greene County Resources Day

Paragould Community Center
3404 Linwood Drive

Mobile Office
10:30 to noon

Prescription Drug Take Back
Law enforcement partner: Sheriff Steve Franks
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11:30 to noon

 10:30 AMVIEW 
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