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Attorney General Alerts

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Unsolicited Packages of Seeds Hitting Arkansans’ Mailboxes

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Unsolicited Packages of Seeds Hitting Arkansans’ Mailboxes

Fri, Jul 31, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Americans to watch out for unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be shipped from China. According to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the identities of the seeds are unknown and may be an invasive plant species. Arkansans who have received a package of seeds should immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

“Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds should not open it and immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture who is working to determine the identity of the seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge people to not open or plant these seeds because as a farm family, I understand the devastating impact invasive plants can have on crops and the ripple effect those financial losses can have on harming our state’s economy. ”

Attorney General Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend the following tips if Arkansans receive an unsolicited package of seeds:

  • Immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.
  • Place the unopened seeds in a sealed package and turn over the label and packaging to the appropriate authorities.
  • Do not plant the seeds.

The USDA and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture are collecting seeds received from across the nation to identify the seeds and determine if they pose a threat to agriculture or the environment of the United States.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Fake Pet Scams Trick Arkansans into Paying for Cute Dogs

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Fake Pet Scams Trick Arkansans into Paying for Cute Dogs

Wed, Jul 29, 2020

Scam artists are online pretending to sell friendly dogs to their forever homes, but are taking consumers’ money without turning over a new fluffy friend. Often, scammers post ads on free buy-and-sell websites and use endearing photos of the animal they have no intention of sending, or may not even own.

“Con artists see families considering a new pet as an opportunity to get into Arkansans’ wallets,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We have seen scam artists using fake email addresses to trick consumers into paying additional fees for shipping the animals via air travel when these cons do not even have a pet for sale.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips to avoid falling victim to a scammer selling a pet that does not exist.

  • Visit the breeder or rescue group in person offering the pet. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.
  • Arrange to pick up the animal from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.
  • Search the user’s profile for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.
  • Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent breeder.
  • Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam.

Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to do their research regarding adopting and purchasing pets. If you have questions about a potential pet shipper, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association provides a list of trusted shippers across the world.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Targeting Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Targeting Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Wed, Jul 22, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, the lull from robocalls has ended and bad actors are again seeking the social security numbers of our most vulnerable. The Attorney General’s Office has seen an increase in complaints where scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and threaten consumers into providing personal information or asking for money.

“It’s time to reinforce an important fact: the government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be from the government, requesting personal or financial information, immediately hang up the phone. Let my office do the fighting for you by reporting these illegal calls.”

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

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or social security numbers, to an unsolicited caller.
  • 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 (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 (800) 269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you have provided your social security number to a scammer, visit www.identitytheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your identity.

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

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Attorney General Alert: Fake Charities Disguised As Helping Military and Veterans

Attorney General Alert: Fake Charities Disguised As Helping Military and Veterans

Thu, Jul 16, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – It is important to be vigilant and do your homework when donating to a new charity for the first time. Scammers have been stealing money from Arkansans by posing as veterans’ charities and often requesting charitable donations. Even though these bad actors can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, it is important to note that there are still many well intentioned military and veterans charities across Arkansas and the country doing tireless work for our nation’s heroes.

“Arkansas is just one big small town and the fantastic people of our state have a giving spirit, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, I want to make sure Arkansans’ generosity is not taken for granted by con artists looking to make a quick buck posing as a fake military or veteran’s charity.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers ensure an organization’s legitimacy before giving money:

The FTC has released a video to highlight tips on how to research charities on giving wisely to veterans organizations.

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 and many other collaborative efforts.

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

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Tax Deadline is Upon Us

Tax Deadline is Upon Us

Fri, Jul 10, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the delayed deadline to file state and federal taxes is quickly approaching. Arkansans who have not filed to pay their taxes still have until July 15.

“This year, the date might have changed, but the responsibility remains – tax time has arrived,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Our communities have dealt with many difficult situations for a majority of the year when it comes to making ends meet and I want Arkansans to know their options and filing your taxes shouldn’t be a burden.”

Taxpayers have the ability to file and pay their taxes safely online through IRS.gov in order to avoid the backlog of mail that may have developed due to previous closures in response to the pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers taxpayers their Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) system as a resource to learn more and answer frequently asked questions while filing taxes online.

Attorney General Rutledge has provided these tips for Arkansans still working on filing their federal and state taxes this year:

  • Taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension to October 15, but this must be done by July 15. Then they must file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software, or using the Free File link on IRS.gov.
  • Arkansas taxpayers who still owe 2019 income tax, as well as estimated tax for 2020, must make two separate payments on or before July 15, 2020; One for their 2019 income tax owed and one for their 2020 estimated tax payments.
  • Members of the military qualify for an additional extension of at least 180 days to file and pay taxes if either of the following situations apply: they serve in a combat zone, have qualifying service outside a combat zone, or they serve on deployment outside the United States away from their permanent duty station while participating in a contingency operation.
  • AARP Foundation Tax Aide program offers free assistance to Arkansas seniors filing their taxes online or by calling 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277).
  • Tax help is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week on IRS.gov.
  • Information for filing state taxes can be found online on dfa.arkansas.gov/income-tax or by calling (501) 682-1100

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 OAG@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Pose as Contact Tracers to Steal Arkansans’ Identities

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Pose as Contact Tracers to Steal Arkansans’ Identities

Wed, Jul 8, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists have found an opportunity by using the important task of contact tracing to steal money and the identity of Arkansans. In trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Arkansas Department of Health is using contact tracing to identify people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. One way bad actors are impersonating contact tracers is by sending text messages containing a link and claiming that by clicking on the link, the recipient will be contacted about a positive test, but in actuality, the link gives the scam artist direct access to the phone holder’s personal information.

“Con artists are impersonating contact tracers in order to steal your money and your identity,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Arkansas Department of Health will not ask for your social security information or demand a payment when reaching out about contact with positive cases of COVID-19.”

When a patient is confirmed to have COVID-19, the Arkansas Health Department provides staff to assist the patient with identifying all individuals with whom they made close contact during the 48-hours preceding the positive COVID-19 test. Those identified by the patient through the contact tracing process are then notified by public health staff of the positive case, are asked to enroll in the Department of Health’s Situational Awareness Response Assistance (SARA) system for email updates, and they are asked to quarantine.

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

To file a complaint about potential contact tracing scams reach out to the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982, email oag@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov. Consumers are encouraged to visit the Arkansas Department of Health's COVID-19 Contact Tracing program website for additional information about contact tracing.

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