Attorney General Alerts

Fake Tax Bills

Fake Tax Bills tricking Consumers

Wed, Jan 4, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Attorney General warns that con artists are sending fake tax bills claiming to be from the IRS demanding immediate payment from Arkansans and threatening arrest if money is not sent. Consumers are being sent a fraudulent version of a CP2000 form for tax year 2015 as an email with an attachment or by standard mail requesting personal financial information and asking for payment via gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

“This new play on an old scam is another shameful attempt by criminals to steal Arkansans' personal information and hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If Arkansans receive one of these letters they suspect may be a scam, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. And as a reminder, the IRS will never make unsolicited calls to or requests through email or social media from taxpayers for personal information.”

The following tips can be used to spot a fake tax bill:

  • The CP2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address
  • The letter or email says the issue is related to the Affordable Care Act and requests information regarding 2014 coverage
  • The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C
  • The sender requests that checks be made out to I.R.S. and sent to the “Austin Processing Center” at a post office box.

According to the IRS, the form CP2000 does exist, but it is used when income reported from a third-party source does not match the income reported on the tax return. The fake form provides little, if any, instruction to taxpayers about appealing additional money owed, but the real form provides extensive information. And some versions of the scam include a “payment” link within the email, which could be set up to steal personal information, take money or infect the computer with malware. The real notice also requests checks be made out to “United States Treasury.”

Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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 or visit or

Scammers Use Utility Bills

Scammers Use Utility Bills to Target Small Businesses

Wed, Dec 28, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are targeting small businesses and residential customers by altering caller IDs and claiming to be from a utility company stating that the customers have unpaid utility bills and the services will be shut off immediately if not paid right away. Customers who receive these calls should hang up and call their utility company using the phone number on their bill to verify the information. Customers should never make a payment or give out personal financial information to someone calling unsolicited and demanding immediate payment.

“Never give out any personal information over the phone,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans should be skeptical if the caller requests immediate payment through nontraditional channels, like prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. Always be cautious of unsolicited calls and consider hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from independent sources and calling them to confirm any outstanding balance.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:

· Add your utility payment due date on your calendar when you receive the bill.

· Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.

· Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.

· Consider participating in an automated draft system, if it is offered.

· Mail the payment to the company directly.

If you have been contacted by one of these scammers, notify the utility company. If you fall victim to one of these phone calls, file a complaint with the Attorney General.

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

Research Return Policies

Research Return Policies

Wed, Dec 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – We all know that our friends and family put a lot of thought into gifts this holiday season, but not every gift is a homerun. Sometimes clothes may be the wrong size, or we may already have that game, which leads us to exchanging or returning that new gift. But Arkansans need to research company return policies.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to help gift recipients, should gift returns or exchanges be necessary this holiday season.

“Some return and exchange policies are simple and can be taken care of quickly,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But consumers should check with the company to find out the specifics of their policies beforehand. Some retailers allow shoppers to make returns regardless of the reason, which leads consumers to wrongly believe they are entitled by law to a full refund or credit at all retail outlets.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips gift recipients need to make a return or exchange:

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

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. 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.

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 or visit or

Financial Planning for Military Service Members and Families

Financial Planning for Military Service Members and Families

Wed, Dec 14, 2016

Military servicemen and women are tasked daily with protecting our freedoms, and the holiday season is no different. While these brave men and women face many of the same financial hardships as other families do, they also are confronted with unique challenges because of circumstances, like frequent relocations and deployments.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently unveiled a new website to help service members and their families manage their personal finances.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate military families as we enter a new year and plan a new budget.

“Financial planning can be difficult and overwhelming,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But it can be even more cumbersome when military service members are receiving change of station or deployment orders. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects these men and women from being taken advantage of. This new website provides a financial readiness toolkit and resources for best fiscal practices.”, which is designed for mobile devices, provides information on the following topics to help military families manage their finances:

  • How to control spending
  • How to use military experience and benefits to increase earning potential
  • How to borrow, use credit and manage debt
  • How to save and invest to make today’s paychecks last into the future
  • How to protect money and financial and account information.

The FTC created by teaming up with the Department of Defense, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Military Saves and other agencies.

The website also provides tips for personal financial managers helping military servicemen and women prepare for the future.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on or by calling (800) 482-8982.

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 or visit or

Gift Cards – What You Should Know

Gift Cards – What You Should Know

Wed, Dec 7, 2016

It is exciting to purchase that new toy a child in your life wants or give that perfect gift a relative needs, but sometimes it can be difficult to settle on the right gift. Many Arkansans turn to gift cards as the perfect item for the Christmas season, and it is important to know that gift card recipients have certain protections that have been put in place by both the federal government and the State of Arkansas.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to ensure gift card recipients know the protections that are currently in place to guard them from being taken advantage of and to ensure they are able to use the gift card for its intended purpose.

“Gift cards are popular because they allow recipients to get exactly what they want from a retailer or restaurant,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important for all Arkansans to know and understand the protections they are granted when they receive a gift card this holiday season.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of State and federal protections under State law and federal rules.

  • A gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. If the expiration dates listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.
  • Inactivity fees can be charged only when a card has not been used for at least one year.
  • The expiration date must be clearly disclosed on the card.
  • Fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging.

The Arkansas Fair Gift Card Act applies not only to gift cards but also gift certificates and prepaid cards but does not apply to loyalty reward program gift cards. The federal rules only apply to the plastic swipe cards, which usually contain a magnetic strip and look similar to a credit or debit card.

If there is a problem with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card. If the problem cannot be resolved at that level, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or or visit or

Deck the Halls — with Caution

Deck the Halls — with Caution

Wed, Nov 30, 2016

The holiday season is upon us, and families across Arkansas are taking steps to make their homes more festive with decorations. Many times this involves stringing lights on rooftops and lighting festive candles to bring more holiday cheer, but the joyfulness can come to a screeching halt if a mishap occurs.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s alert to help homeowners avoid some common mistakes that could cause injury or destruction.

“We all get caught up in the holiday season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But with the excitement and activities, sometimes we can get careless. It is important to make safety a priority for yourself as well as your family because most incidents are avoidable.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans planning to hang lights this holiday season:

  • Select lights with labels indicating they have been safety tested by independent laboratories.
  • Check each set of lights. Look for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard or repair, if necessary, before use.
  • When using lights outdoors, make sure they are certified for outdoor use and are securely fastened to protect against damaging winds.
  • Only use insulated staples or hoods to affix lights. Never use nails or tacks.
  • Do not use more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord, and ensure that each extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Always turn off or unplug when you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 12,000 emergency room visits for falls, lacerations and back strains while decorating for the holidays. Meanwhile, fires are also a concern with burning candles and fresh Christmas trees that are not properly watered.

Use caution when climbing ladders and make sure all locks are properly engaged, keep your body near the middle of the step and face the ladder while climbing. Avoid using the top step of the ladder unless it was designed of that purpose.

And to avoid fires caused by candles, never leave a candle unattended and keep them on a stable surface and away from items that can burn easily, like trees decorations, curtains and furniture.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or or visit or

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