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Attorney General Alerts

AG ALERT: Online Services May Not Be All That They Appear

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Online Services May Not Be All That They Appear

Wed, Oct 10, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – From food delivery to job applications, many services are available online rather than requiring Arkansans to visit a storefront, but the quality of services may diminish if completed online rather than in person. Some companies are offering medical services online, including eye and hearing exams, potentially decreasing the accuracy of the services.

“Arkansans should take advantage of advances in technology often to make our busy lives easier,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “But we should all do our due diligence to research companies and apps to ensure that the services are accurate, effective and legitimate.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who decide to pay for services online:

· Check the site’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Also check the site’s statements about the security provided for your information. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” section of a site.

· Pay by credit card, the most secure way. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you do not get what you were promised. You may also dispute unauthorized charges on your credit card. Many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which you pay nothing if someone steals and uses your credit card.

· Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.

· Review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases promptly and thoroughly. Notify your credit or debit card issuer immediately if your credit or debit card or checkbook is lost or stolen, or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.

Rutledge encourages Arkansans to check a business’s status with the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau to ensure its legitimacy.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Military Service Members Can Vote Absentee

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Military Service Members Can Vote Absentee

Wed, Oct 3, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Voting at the ballot box is an important right for all Americans, including our active duty military men and women, and their families. But voting absentee may be confusing and often an option some may not be aware of. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act ensures voting eligibility in the military member’s state of legal residence.

“The deadline is quickly approaching to register to vote to be able to cast a vote in November’s general election,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is important that all Arkansans have their voices heard in November, including our military service members who are currently stationed outside of their home State or country. Absentee ballots can be requested by contacting the county clerk where the service member is registered to vote.”

Attorney General Rutledge shares Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin’s list of qualifications for voting absentee:

· The voter will be unavoidably absent from the polling site on election day.

· The voter will be unable to attending the polling site on election day due to illness or physical disability.

· The member of the Uniformed Services, merchant marines, spouse or a dependent family member are away from the polling location due to the member’s active duty status.

· A U.S. citizen whose residence is in Arkansas but is temporarily living outside the territorial limits of the United States is eligible to vote absentee.

According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Elections Division, absentee ballots can be delivered through either the U.S. Postal Service or Ballot Safe, a secure online website. If the military service member decides to download the ballot instead of receiving a hard copy, the ballot will need to be printed, filled out and mailed to the county clerk, postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 6.

Military and family members are eligible to vote in their state of legal residence. This could be an original address, or the families can change their legal residence at each permanent duty station change. The American Bar Association encourages military families to keep voter registration, vehicle registration and State of legal residence the same for tax purposes.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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AG ALERT: Flood-Damaged Vehicles Make Their Way to Arkansas

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Flood-Damaged Vehicles Make Their Way to Arkansas

Wed, Sep 26, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – While the damage from Hurricane Florence was mostly concentrated to the Carolinas, the effects may be felt across the country as bad actors line their own pockets by selling water-damaged items and vehicles.

“Unfortunately Arkansas has some unscrupulous car dealers who may not follow Arkansas law by providing the proper documentation when selling water-damaged vehicles,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is common for these sellers to try to take advantage of consumers by selling damaged out-of-state vehicles without proper disclosure.”

Consumers should review a vehicle’s title for any flood damage reports. Arkansas law requires dealerships to place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged, but consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Although the private seller is required by Arkansas law to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory for this type of transaction.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans to consider before purchasing a new or used vehicle that could have been involved in the recent flooding.

  • Ask the seller if the car has been damaged by hail or flood waters, and always check the car’s title history.
  • Inspect the vehicle for water stains and mildew in the vents and behind the dashboard. Also look under the hood for signs of oxidation.
  • Flood damaged cars may look fine because of cosmetic repairs, but they may have defective electrical systems, steering problems, faulty computers, faulty air bag systems and persistent mold problems.
  • Have the car inspected by your own mechanic before you decide to buy.
  • If the car has experienced significant damage and is considered a salvage vehicle, a buyer’s notification should be posted, and the price should be much lower than the price of a similar car with a clean title. Consider that you may have difficulty later selling a salvage vehicle and its value will be compromised.

Consumers who believe they have been sold a flood-damaged item that was not advertised as such should file a complaint with 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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AG ALERT: Research Charities When Giving to Hurricane Florence Victims

AG ALERT: Research Charities When Giving to Hurricane Florence Victims

Wed, Sep 19, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Scenes of destruction left by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina have left many Arkansans wanting to find a way to help. But Arkansans should use caution and take time to research, ensuring their donations are actually used toward helping our fellow Americans. Following natural disasters, the Attorney General’s Office often receives reports of unscrupulous “charities” targeting the kind and generous spirit of Arkansans wanting to assist those in need.

“Scammers often create fake organizations by selecting a name and logo similar to an existing, legitimate organization that actually helps those in need,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These scammers provide limited information, while still trying to tug at the heartstrings of potential donors to convince them the ‘charity’ is legitimate. Arkansans must remain vigilant and do research to know how their money will be used.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumer give to only legitimate charities:

Also be wary of charities that pop up quickly in response to Hurricane Florence and other emergencies. Even if they are legitimate, they oftentimes do not have a system in place to get donations to those in need. Consider giving to an established organization which helps disaster victims in the area.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Scammers Stealing Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Scammers Stealing Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Wed, Sep 12, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Consumers should be on alert for persons calling and claiming to be government officials. The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints of callers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and even the Attorney General’s Office. And now Arkansans are reporting receiving calls from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration and requesting social security numbers and bank account information.

“The government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If the caller is requesting personal or financial information and claiming to be a government agency, hang up, find the phone number from an official source and call the agency directly. It is important for Arkansans to know who they are talking to at the other end of the phone line.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government imposter:

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers, unless the caller is trusted and his/her identity has been confirmed.
  • Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.
  • The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Alarm System Scams

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Alarm System Scams

Wed, Sep 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Consumers should be on the alert for door-to-door sales people using scare tactics to sell home alarm systems. The Attorney General’s Office receives complaints against home alarm systems and monitoring services for violations of the Home Solicitations Sales Act, including high pressure sales, misrepresentations of products, failure to provide a copy of the contract and others.

“Arkansas law provides specific protections for consumers purchasing items from a door-to-door salesperson,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office is here to protect consumers with education and awareness. At times, this requires legal action to respond to bad actors trying to take advantage of Arkansans.”

Attorney General Rutledge provided the below tips for consumers to help spot an unscrupulous door-to-door salesperson:

  • Consumers have a right to review the contract outside the presence of the sales agent, and cancel the contract without obligation within three days of the home solicitation sale. The sales agent must provide the consumer written notice of this right to cancel along with the proposed contract.
  • High-pressure tactics are rarely employed by companies whose business depends on providing quality customer service. A legitimate company will allow consumers to weigh options and will review the system details and notification procedures.
  • The solicitor may suggest the existing security system needs an “upgrade,” when the salesperson actually represents a different company. This may lead a homeowner to believe the system must be “upgraded” just to remain reliable.
  • The salesperson offers “free installation.” The homeowner may think it is a bargain, but many “free installation” offers are coupled with long-term, high-cost monitoring contracts. In the long run, the “free” offer may be the most expensive of all.

Arkansans who may have been victimized by these practices are encouraged to contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office.

Last week, Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Alert America LLC for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Alert America sold third-party alarm monitoring services, and many of its contracts included prepaid service contracts. When Alert America closed its business, it failed to remit payments to the third party, leaving Arkansans with discontinued services they had prepaid. The Attorney General’s Office has discovered at least 67 affected Arkansans. Some consumers reported losing more than $1,000.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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