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Attorney General Alerts

Apps Allow Teens to Hide Photos from Parents

Apps Allow Teens to Hide Photos from Parents

Wed, Jun 6, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – With kids home for the summer, parents need to know about dangerous phone apps available that allow their kids to actively conceal information, photos and texts from their parents. These apps can easily be downloaded onto any mobile device and have unassuming icons designed to mislead a casual observer and veil their secretive nature. One popular application or app appears to be a calculator. It even functions as a calculator, until the user enters a specific code. The app then opens up to a secret vault of photos and videos that can be stored in the app for sharing, without being detected in the phone’s photo album.

“The world of secret apps is scary for parents across Arkansas,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Parents should dig deeper into their child’s phone and ask questions about new apps that have been downloaded. The best way to educate our children about internet safety is to be educated ourselves.”

Attorney General Rutledge and Common Sense Media shared the following tips for parents to consider when discussing this topic with their children.

  • Talk to teens about using phones responsibly and respecting privacy.
  • Remind teens that taking and/or sharing embarrassing or revealing pictures often comes back to haunt people, so resist the temptation.
  • Consider that kids might not be trying to hide photos from parents but from nosy friends. If that is the case, try to find out why.
  • Do a spot check to see which apps have used the camera. This will reveal any camera apps disguised as something else. (On iPhones go into Settings -> Privacy -> Camera)

There are also apps available to help parents monitor their child’s device. Apps like SecureTeen Parental Control or Parental Control Board are helpful to parents to know who kids are texting, what music they are buying and many other things.

The Attorney General’s office also produces materials for students of all ages, along with parents and guardians to learn more about online and internet safety.

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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Scammers Use Fake Sweepstakes to Steal Cash

Scammers Use Fake Sweepstakes to Steal Cash

Wed, May 30, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Any prize that requires a processing fee or personal financial information is a scam. Con artists are trying to convince Arkansans that they have won a sweepstakes or lottery but in order to get the prize, they must pay a fee or fill out a form to provide banking information for the scammer to “deposit the money.”

“A legitimate prize should never cost a consumer money,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Consumers need to be cautious when receiving unsolicited phone calls or emails. Arkansans work hard for their money and these criminals continue to plot to find ways to steal it. We should all remain vigilant in protecting our money and privacy.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers spot one of these scams:

  • Consumers should not try to collect winnings from a sweepstakes they do not remember entering.
  • Never give out personal financial information.
  • Do not pay money up front in an attempt to claim a prize.
  • Always remember, if it looks or seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • Scammers often use the name of legitimate businesses, like Publishers Clearinghouse, or a similar name to trick consumers into turning over their information.

Consumers should ignore all unsolicited sweepstakes prizes and immediately contact the Attorney General’s Office to report the call or email. When money is wired, especially to a foreign country, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get it returned.

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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Apple Support Advisor Scam Uses Scare Tactics

Apple Support Advisor Scam Uses Scare Tactics

Wed, May 23, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers unrelenting phone call tactics are used to convince Arkansans of suspicious activity in Apple iCloud accounts, stating the user must contact Apple Support Advisor immediately. The automated calls that appear to be from Dallas, Nebraska, Hawaii and other locations, ask Arkansans to press 1 or call 925-244-1845 to connect with the company, but this is a scam.

“These deceptive phone calls can often sound legitimate and may scare some Apple users into following the caller’s instructions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But the caller is likely to ask for remote access to the computer to change settings and trick the user into installing malware. The caller could also convince the user to enroll in a fake maintenance program and ask for credit card information to complete the purchase. Arkansans should never turn over any personal or financial information during an unsolicited phone call and should confirm caller ID and call back numbers from an independent search.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who receive this call, or get a similar pop-up message on the computer:

  • Hang up on unexpected or urgent call from anyone claiming to be tech support. It’s not a real call. And do not rely on caller ID to prove who a caller is because criminals can spoof the phone number they are calling from.
  • Do not give personal or banking information over the phone to an unknown individual.
  • If asked to pay for anything with a prepaid gift card, then it is a scam.
  • Ignore pop-up message on the computer or a mobile device encouraging the user to call tech support. There are legitimate pop-ups from security software to do things like update operating systems. But do not call a number that pops up on the screen in a warning about a computer problem.
  • Call the security software company directly if there is reason for concern – but do not use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Instead, look for the company’s contact information online or a receipt.
  • Never share passwords or give control of a computer to an unsolicited caller.

My office has received reports of Arkansans receiving multiple calls a day from different numbers, all with the same recordings.

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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Vacationers Beware of Travel Scams

Vacationers Beware of Travel Scams

Wed, May 16, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans should be aware of common scams when planning or taking a vacation this summer.

“Countless Arkansans look to summer vacation as a chance to get away and relax, but con artists become creative and recognize this as another opportunity to steal from honest people,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans should not let their guard down, even on vacation. Whether it’s at home, on the beach or by the lake, we all need to remain diligent in protecting our money and personal information.”

All vacationers should exercise caution when booking travel accommodations. Some scammers will take to the internet or phone lines to pitch free or deeply discounted travel deals, trying to convince unknowing vacationers that the only requirement is a “small” processing fee or credit card number verification. Others will post stolen photos and listing information for properties they do not own, take the cash from reservations and leave vacationers without a place to stay.

Arkansans should not only keep their guard up during the booking process, but also throughout the vacation itself. Vacationers should be wary of high-pressure tactics and seemingly legitimate but unverified offers while on their trips.

Attorney General Rutledge also released the below list of common scams consumers could encounter on vacation.

  • Gasoline Scam: Someone approaches with a convincing story that they ran out of gas and money. They only need $40 to fill up the tank and may even offer to mail a check to repay you. The likelihood that the repayment will be received is slim. Either refuse to give the person money or pay for the fuel if the person is at the service station to ensure the money is spent as intended.
  • Ride Service Scam: A “driver” approaches and mentions he is off duty but trying to make some extra money and offers a ride, but he ends up taking the scenic route traveling miles out of the way to boost the fare. To avoid this scam, ensure the driver is on duty, licensed and metered.
  • Fake Front Desk Phone Call Scam: Scam artists call hotel rooms directly, often in the middle of the night while guests are disoriented by being woken up. They say there has been a computer glitch and they need to verify your credit card information. Hang up and go directly to the front desk to verify the call.
  • Wi-Fi Hot Spot Scam: Crooks can create their own Wi-Fi spot and give it a similar name to an actual hotspot. Then these scammers can spy on everything the user does, from accessing bank accounts to making online purchases. Be sure to ask the hotel or restaurant what their Wi-Fi name is before logging on.

It is possible to find a good travel deal or even win a vacation. However, Arkansans should do their homework when booking and remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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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Predators Harvest Photos from Hashtags

Predators Harvest Photos from Hashtags

Wed, May 9, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Posting pictures of your children under seemingly innocent hashtags has a sinister side and could put them on the radar of child predators. With summer quickly approaching, Arkansans must know that predators search common hashtags looking for pictures to sell, trade or use for their own pleasure – including, but not limited to, photos of common summertime activities such as swimming, bath time and sleepovers.

“Parents commonly post pictures of their children to share with family and friends, but what they don’t realize is they may be putting their children in danger,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Hashtags make it easy to share the joys and hardships of parenthood with others, but predators will use those same hashtags, like #bathtime or #toddlerbikini, to find pictures for their own twisted use.”

The Child Rescue Coalition issued the following questions parents should ask themselves before posting an image of children online:

  • Why am I sharing this?
  • Would I want someone else to share an image like this of me?
  • Would I want this image of my child viewed and downloaded by predators on the Dark Web?
  • Is this something I want to be part of my child’s digital life?

Predators near and far can harvest photos that most would consider cherished or fun childhood memories, and distribute them a number of ways – including but not limited to the Dark Web. Arkansas parents should always use extreme caution when posting any pictures of their child online.

Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline, (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com. To report child abuse, call the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 482-5964, or, in the event of an emergency, dial 911 or a local law enforcement agency.

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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The Dangers of Unwashed Poppy Seeds

The Dangers of Unwashed Poppy Seeds

Wed, May 2, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning consumers about a lethal opioid that may be lurking in their kitchen pantries – unwashed poppy seeds. After meeting with parents who lost a child to these seemingly innocent seeds, Attorney General Rutledge wants to ensure that all Arkansans are educated about the dangers. While washed poppy seeds are a safe and popular ingredient in everything from baked goods to salad dressings, some individuals are engaging in the dangerous behavior of making a “tea” with the unwashed seeds to settle their nerves or to get a high.

“The brewing and consumption of unwashed poppy seed tea is a dangerous trend with potentially lethal consequences,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unwashed poppy seeds are available from many online retailers and could be easily confused for the commonly-used washed variety. Arkansans should ensure that they are purchasing and using the correct variety of poppy seeds since the unwashed seeds can be dangerous, addictive and even lethal.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers shopping online who may have purchased unwashed poppy seeds instead of washed by mistake.

  • Thoroughly review the order to ensure you are ordering the product(s) you searched for.
  • Carefully research the product by reading manufacturer information, consumer reviews and other literature to determine whether the seeds are washed or unwashed.
  • Read and understand the refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase. Look closely at disclosures about the seller’s refund and shipping policies.
  • If possible, use credit cards for payment. Credit card purchases are the most secure and easiest to return. And under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you do not get what you were promised.

Arkansas consumers should also be aware of the overdose risks that may come with unwashed poppy seeds. Recent research found that the unwashed seeds can have an opium latex on them that is activated during the tea brewing process. Morphine levels vary widely among unwashed seeds, ranging from trace to lethal amounts, and consumers should be cautious and thoroughly research the products they are purchasing.

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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