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Attorney General Alerts

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: New Text and Email Scams Target Real Estate Agents

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: New Text and Email Scams Target Real Estate Agents

Wed, Jan 15, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are using trusted names and companies to ask for “favors,” and in turn steal victims’ money. While some scams use fear and threaten arrest or cancelation of services if not paid, others convince people that they will be paid back whatever monies they spend on gift cards. This new scam uses real estate agents’ names to ask co-workers to pick up hundreds of dollars in gift cards for specific reasons such as closing gifts for clients.

“As we become more aware of possible scams, these bad actors are upping their game and using the people we know and trust to get to our money,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “They use familiar names and have believable requests, but when it comes to your money always use an abundance of caution, pick up the phone and call directly.”

Real estate agents can be particularly vulnerable because their name, phone number and place of work are easily accessible, but they are not the only ones susceptible to these scams. Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep Arkansans safe:

  • Managers should instruct their staff on what the company’s purchasing practices are—consider adopting and explaining a policy where the company pays for expenses only through a credit card and that employee personal funds will never be requested
  • Be skeptical of any text or phone call claiming to be a manager or co-worker that does not originate from their telephone number
  • Verify the identity of the caller or person sending the text before acting upon it
  • Remember that if it sounds unusual or too good to be true, then it is probably a scam

Realtors and those involved in the house buying process should also be aware of spoof emails suggesting that closing cost payment account details have suddenly changed. Scammers are skilled at infiltrating email systems and impersonating emails with fake addresses to attempt to divert hefty closing costs to alternate, fraudulent accounts. If you receive such an email, call your realtor or mortgage broker.

For more information or to report fraud, 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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: REAL ID Enhances National Security Safety Measures

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: REAL ID Enhances National Security Safety Measures

Wed, Jan 8, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – If it is time to renew your driver’s license, consider making the transition to the “REAL ID” now. Beginning October 1, 2020, the REAL ID driver’s license or identification card will be required to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building or facility, including military bases.

“When you make sure your family members have a REAL ID, you are taking the next step in protecting their personal identity from criminals,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “From everyday travel to national security, the REAL ID will enhance our safety from threats both foreign and domestic.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the REAL ID improves the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards as well as help fight terrorism and reduce identity fraud.

To receive the enhanced ID you must present qualifying forms of identification that confirm your full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, proof of address and lawful status. Visit the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration website, here, to find out which qualifying documents you need, or click here for a full list of qualified documents.

Arkansans can get a REAL ID by bringing with them the qualifying forms of identification to these specific regional offices around the State. The cost of the enhanced license remains $40, the same amount as the standard non-enhanced state license. If your license is current, you can convert your license to a REAL ID for a $10 duplicate card charge. REAL IDs have a yellow circle with a white star in the middle on the upper right side of the license.

Though a REAL ID does not expire for 8 years, the renewal process is simpler than when the original enhanced license is obtained. You will only need to bring qualifying forms of identification if your name, gender or Social Security Number have changed or if your date of birth was amended.

The standard driver’s license will remain valid for state-related purposes such as driving, banking and voting. A valid passport will be accepted to board airlines.

For more information or to report fraud, 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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Avoid Sweating over Gym Contracts

Avoid Sweating over Gym Contracts

Wed, Jan 1, 2020

Getting in shape is always a top New Year’s Resolution and joining a gym is a popular step in achieving that goal. More than 60 million Americans are members of health clubs and gyms, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. While the decision to join an exercise program or gym can be a pleasant and rewarding experience, sometimes, it’s not.

“Investing in your health is important for your physical and mental wellbeing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But reading the fine print, getting all sales promises in writing and knowing the cancelation and billing policies are crucial in securing your fiscal wellbeing and avoiding any unfortunate surprises.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addresses some concerns received by her office on poor practices at health clubs, and what to look out for before signing on the dotted line.

  • Visit the spa or gym during the hours you would normally attend. Note the condition and cleanliness of the equipment and if the facilities are overcrowded.
  • Compare several gyms in the area.
  • Ask about trial periods so you can sample the gym without obligation to join.
  • Ask about hours of operation and any limits to certain memberships.
  • Do instructors and trainers have special qualifications or expertise to best serve its members?
  • Ask what the cancellation policy is upfront and the costs of any joining or cancellation fees.
  • Consider the form of payment. Remember which bank card or bank account number are on file to make the cancellation process easier.
  • Ask about automatic renewal policies and any recurring annual fees.
  • If signing a contract for a specific time period, are there extenuating circumstances that would allow breaks in the contract such as injury, illness or moving?

Enticing advertisements can sometimes cross over to deception from highly motivated sales people. If a sales person agrees to special perks, waived fees or price changes, always make sure they are in writing – hard copy and electronically- and approved by the manager. The law requires that a copy of the signed contract be given at the time of joining.

Arkansas law allows buyers to cancel the remaining portion of a health spa contract if the buyer becomes permanently disabled or if the buyer moves more than 50 miles from any location operated by the gym. These laws do not apply to most non-profit gyms such as YMCA.

Finally, before joining a health club, consider contacting the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have been filed against the gym.

For more information about 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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Avoid Gift Return Blues

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Avoid Gift Return Blues

Wed, Dec 18, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – To make gift returns and exchanges simple and less frustrating, it starts when buying the present.

“An unknown and complicated return policy can spoil some of the holiday fun and hurt your pocketbook,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans should learn the return policy prior to attempting the return. Some retailers allow shoppers to make returns for any reason, which can lead consumers to wrongly believe they are entitled, by law, to a full refund or credit.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for gift recipients needing to make a return or exchange this holiday season:

  • Ask the giver about the store’s return or exchange policy.
  • Keep all gift receipts.
  • If considering returning, do not open the box or remove the tags.
  • Some online retailers allow purchases to be returned in store, while others require the item to be shipped back. Check with the company ahead of time.

As a gesture of goodwill, most companies offer in-store exchanges if the customer has the receipt and the item is promptly returned. However, others have an “all sales are final” policy for deeply discounted or clearance items and do not allow returns or exchanges. Some retailers only accept returns in exchange for store credit or gift cards, not cash. Return policies not only differ from store to store but can also differ for items purchased in store and items bought online or by mail-order.

Some retailers that allow returns may charge restocking fees for certain products. Consumers can sometimes pay a fee of 10 to 25 percent of the price of the item if the package is not in the condition in which it was purchased. Meanwhile, items like computer software, CDs, DVDs and Blue-Ray discs are not generally returnable after the seal has been broken.

Retailers are not required to accept at-will returns, and even in the case of a defective product, consumers may be required to contact the manufacturer. Sometimes retailers will require consumers to deal with the product manufacturer directly, rather than simply returning the item to the place of purchase.

The National Retail Federation estimates holiday spending to increase at least 3.8 percent to $728 billion this year.

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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Popular Secret Santa Scam is Back on Social Media

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Popular Secret Santa Scam is Back on Social Media

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – The Secret Santa/Secret Sister scams are making the rounds again on social media. Save your money, postage and heartache, and keep on scrolling when you spot an offer that seems too good to be true. The scam works by requesting online “friends” to send relatively inexpensive gifts or gift cards to those on an email or social media chain, with the promise that they, too, will receive gifts in the exchange. At the very least, participants will spend money and send gifts without getting anything in return. At worst, scammers use personal information posted on social media to participate, often leading to identity theft.

“The shared post may seem harmless about ‘Secret Santa’ when it comes from your great aunt or a college buddy on social media, but these innocent re-posts are a scam,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important for Arkansans to know there are hidden dangers on social media and no one is safe when it comes to their wallet and personal information.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers to avoid the Secret Santa scam:

  • Consumers should never disclose their personal information to an unknown person online because it could result in identity theft or the opening of other accounts in their name.
  • Unfortunately it is unlikely that a consumer will actually receive gifts in response to such a scheme; because if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Consult the terms of use for Facebook and other social media platforms as they may prohibit schemes like this one.
  • Review guidance available from the U.S. Postal Service because it may be illegal to send the requested gift cards.
  • Consumers should safeguard their banking and financial information in order to prevent theft due to scams.
  • When using the internet, consumers should ensure that they are using a verified, secure, and encrypted website when sharing any personal or financial information online.

For more information about 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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Protect Yourself from Prowling Scam Artists While Holiday Shopping

Protect Yourself from Prowling Scam Artists While Holiday Shopping

Wed, Nov 20, 2019

As the most popular shopping days of the year are upon Arkansans, scam artists are proactively searching for opportunities to steal your identity, money and personal information. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has identified best practices that will be rolled out throughout the week for consumers that can be used during the entire holiday season.

“Every Christmas season, many Arkansans experience some form of fraud from a con artist or bad actor who tries to steal your personal identity, bank account or credit card information, or who fails to uphold the terms of a sales agreement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday often have us plugging in credit and debit card numbers online where predatory scam artists could be lurking, waiting for an opportunity to steal your money.”

Every year, countless American shoppers fall victim to identity thieves by not following a few simple rules. Attorney General Rutledge provides the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of consumers cited online shopping as the most popular shopping destination this year. They also expect holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent over last year. That means consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,007.24 this year on gifts.

Also, research companies before finalizing the online purchase to ensure it is a credible merchant, and check the anticipated delivery date to make sure it will be delivered in time for the holidays.

For more information about 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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