Attorney General Alerts

Hackers taking Hostages in Cyberspace

CONSUMER ALERT: Hackers are taking Hostages in Cyberspace

Wed, Mar 1, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Hackers are taking hostages in cyberspace and using new methods to extort money from individuals and businesses. Using methods called “ransomware,” they can capture and control access to prized photos, like wedding albums or pictures of children or grandchildren, or important documents, like taxes or legal documents. Using a virus, computer files are remotely encrypted and users can no longer view them, unless you pay the hackers for the “key” to unlock the files. Often these criminals demand payment in Bitcoin or some other untraceable form of payment. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has been contacted about this growing form of malicious malware that can get installed on a computer or mobile phone without the user even knowing, until they try to access a file that has been locked.

The FBI reports ransomware attacks hit an all-time high in 2016. This virus is masked as an attachment or hyperlink via email or social media messengers and could even come from people you may know. Once a consumer clicks on the attachment or hyperlink, the computer is infected and can spread the malware.

“Hackers are taking control of computers and tools from cyberspace,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These are sophisticated criminals from around the world, but there are simple steps individuals and businesses can take to stay protected from these hackers.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following steps consumers can take to prevent a ransomware computer attack.

  • Back up important files regularly.
  • Avoid opening attachments that look suspicious.
  • Do not open hyperlinks if you do not recognize the address or it looks suspicious.
  • Keep operating systems, antiviruses, browsers and other software up to date.
  • Make sure unused wireless connections are turned off.
  • If your computer or phone is acting suspicious, disconnect from the internet until it has been diagnosed.

Many anti-virus and computer systems, along with computer technicians, can remove the virus if a computer does get infected. Ransomware attacks should also be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Compliant Center.

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

Refund Anticipation Loans and Checks Can Cost Consumers

Refund Anticipation Loans and Checks Can Cost Consumers

Wed, Feb 22, 2017

Some car salesman use high pressure tactics to slither their way into a consumer’s wallet. Car dealerships and other large-item retailers are trying to encourage Arkansans to let their salesmen do the consumer’s taxes. The salesmen can “predict” the tax refund amount and encourage the consumer to enter into a loan with the business to purchase a large ticket item. This is also called a Refund Anticipation Loan and may end up costing the consumer more than filing his or her own return.

“Refund Anticipation Loans can be risky and costly for consumers,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The actual refund may only cover a portion of the loan, leaving the consumer on the hook for the rest of the money and often at an inflated interest rate.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following considerations before agreeing to have taxes prepared as part of a Refund Anticipation Loan:

  • Free or low-cost options such as the online Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance may be options.
  • Electronically filed returns can be deposited in bank accounts in as few as eight days.
  • The IRS can also provide refunds by check or prepaid debit card.
  • Always get a written list of fees before entering into any agreement or requesting tax preparation assistance.

Refund Anticipation Checks are similar to Refund Anticipation Loans and can be attractive to some consumers because businesses often waive tax preparation fees, but many Arkansans can obtain free tax preparation services. The IRS provides a Free File program online that is a federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for approximately 70 percent of taxpayers who earn less than $64,000. Eligible consumers can go to and choose from multiple private companies that will file federal returns at no charge.

Some Arkansans may also be eligible to receive free help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Meanwhile, seniors can contact AARP to learn more about the tax preparation services they provide.

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

Lost Military Records Can Be Replaced

VETERAN ALERT: Lost Military Records Can Be Replaced

Wed, Feb 15, 2017

Military medical or personnel records can get lost or misplaced, which can be frustrating if a service member has passed away and the family would like the deceased person’s records for posterity.

These records may be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center by the next of kin, normally at no cost. Next of kin is considered the surviving spouse who has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother. Proof of death of the veteran must be provided.

“There are a number of reasons that a veteran or family member may want military separation documents, service personnel records or medical records,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These records are used for applying for veteran benefits, retirement preparation, funeral or even researching family military history.”

To release records, the National Archives requires the following information about the veteran:

  • Complete name used while in service
  • Service number
  • Social Security number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth

All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin. If the veteran is deceased, proof of death, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary when requesting documents.

Service information can be requested from eVetRecs online or by filling out an SF180 form and following the instructions to mail or fax the form. Urgent records requests can be made by adding the nature of the urgency and deadline in the comments section of eVetRecs or in the purpose section of the SF180 form.

The government provides basic military personnel and medical records information at no charge if the veteran was discharged after 1955. If the discharge occurred prior to 1955, the records have been archived and could be subject to a fee. If the request involves a service fee, the requester will be notified as soon as possible.

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

'Can you hear me?' Scam

'Can you hear me?' Scam

Wed, Feb 8, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are being victimized by con artists who use audio editing equipment to create false authorization recordings to make unauthorized purchases on credit cards or add-ons to utility bills. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has received a number of reports of the scam in which callers are asking “Can you hear me?” in order to elicit a “yes” response from the consumer which the scammer will then use for illegal or fraudulent purposes.

“This robocall scam can be dangerous if Arkansans don’t protect themselves,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is best to just hang up on the caller if you are suspicious.”

Attorney General Rutledge released to following tips to avoid this scam:

  • Use caller ID and let unknown numbers go to voicemail.
  • Avoid talking to unknown callers and hang up if you are suspicious.
  • Monitor bank and credit card statements, along with utility bills for any charges you did not make.

In this scam, the caller has reportedly asked questions such as “Can you hear me?” “Are you the lady of the house?” “Are you the homeowner?” “Is this <insert phone number>?” or “Do you pay the household telephone bills?” all hoping for the same result -- a “yes” answer that can be recorded for further use.

In addition to recording your voice to make a false authorization that can be played back to approve additional charges, by talking to unknown callers, scammers will know that the number is active and are more likely to sell the number and lead to more unwanted calls from disreputable solicitors.

Report this scam to the Attorney General’s office and also contact the Federal Trade Commission if an unauthorized credit card transaction has been processed or the Federal Communications Commission if an additional charge is added to a phone bill.

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

Scam artists posing as Attorney General’s Office

Scam artists are posing as the Attorney General’s Office

Wed, Feb 1, 2017

Scammers are posing as the Attorney General’s office to try and trick Arkansans into turning over personal information. The Attorney General’s office recently received reports of Arkansans receiving a phone call from a Utah phone number stating that the consumer needs to contact the Attorney General’s office to inquire about a legal account. This is a scam.

“These criminals know that their tactics have more credibility if they pretend to be Arkansas’s chief consumer advocate,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “They think they can trick consumers into turning over personal and financial information, ultimately giving the scam artists access to personal accounts. If an Arkansan receives one of these suspicious calls, hang up and contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help spot this scam and avoid falling victim:

  • These agencies also do not seek or accept payment in pre-paid gift cards.
  • If a consumer owes money, legitimate collectors must send a written validation notice.
  • Do not confirm or provide personal or financial information to an unknown person over the phone or internet.
  • If consumers file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, they will receive an acknowledgement letter or email that contains a complaint number. That number would never be referred to as a legal account.

Keep in mind that con artists do not follow the law anyway, so they disregard the do-not-call registry. And technological advances allow for Call ID spoofing, so that scammers can disguise the source of the calls.

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

An Eye for Detail Could Spot a Scam

An Eye for Detail Could Spot a Scam

Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Scammers are hacking into email accounts of realtors to take money from their clients. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission have received reports of a scam where a criminal goes through a realtor’s email looking for upcoming transactions. The hacker then poses as the realtor or title company representative and emails the hopeful homebuyer with “new” instructions to wire the down payment. But instead of the money going to the title company to secure the home, the money goes straight into the hacker’s account.

“Realtors pledge to protect and promote the interests of their clients,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And criminals are always on the lookout for ways to take advantage of and exploit trusting relationships. Avoiding this scam requires everyone to be diligent and use extreme caution when wiring money to avoid these sly scammers.”

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following tips to offer protections against this scam:

  • When it comes to financial transactions, be cautious doing business by email. Call and have an actual conversation with the realtor, title company or bank that you are dealing with. Emails can be hacked.
  • Never open attachments in emails if you are not absolutely sure of the source and were not expecting the email. The attachment may contain malware that can operate undetected on your computer, leaving you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Utilize respected malware and virus protection programs and keep them up to date.
  • When purchasing something online, make sure the URL contains “https,” which lets you know the web address is secure.
  • Never assume the number a person gives you is the correct phone number. Look up the number to assure you are communicating with the actual person or business, or use a phone number you have used to previously reach the person.
  • Utilize complex computer and email passwords and change them frequently to avoid computer hacking.

Email is not a secure way to send financial information. Emails requesting financial information should be reported to 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

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