Attorney General Alerts
Attorney General Rutledge Warns Arkansans of Winter Weather Scams, Price GougingWed, Feb 17, 2021
Says, ‘if you suspect any type of fraud or price gouging, call my office immediately’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today is urging Arkansans to be on guard against scam artists and price gouging following the recent severe winter weather that has impacted the entire State. The snow and ice can cause damage to homes, businesses, vehicles, trees and other property, and clean-up efforts may require some Arkansans to seek assistance from contractors or repairmen.
“Arkansans have already been through a lot having to deal with the effects of bitter cold and several inches of snow dropping on the Natural State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge all of you to use caution as the clean-up process begins and if you suspect any type of fraud or price gouging, call my office immediately.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency following the freezing rain, sleet, snow and power outages in Arkansas.
Act 376 of 1997, which prohibits businesses from price gouging during a state of emergency, is now in effect. The law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services, such as food, fuel, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medicine, bandages and construction materials. The price gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, State or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body if necessary to protect the lives, property or welfare of the citizens. For home repairs, the law remains in effect for 180 days.
A violation of Act 376 is a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Arkansans who believe they have encountered a disaster scam or price gouging should contact the Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or file a consumer complaint at ArkansasAG.gov.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scammers Turn to Social Media to Steal from Broken-HeartedThu, Feb 11, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – With Valentine’s Day approaching, it is important to remain cautious of suitors trying to gain access to your personal information online. Con artists are getting more creative now than ever by targeting those Arkansans looking for love. Scammers will befriend someone online, slowly gaining trust and access to more personal information, including financial information, birthdates, and social security numbers. This is commonly referred to as a “sweetheart scam.”
“Scammers will use whatever means they can to steal from Arkansans,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Guard your heart, bank account and personal information from cons trying to become friends to steal your hard-earned money.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for social media users:
- Share your hopes and dreams, not your salary and bank information.
- Be honest about your expectations, not your pin number.
- Reveal your hobbies, not your passwords.
- Open your heart to love, not your wallet to a sob story.
- Plan to meet in public, not in a private, secluded or an unknown place.
- Talk about your favorite vacations, not when you’re leaving town.
- Hope for the best in others, but don’t ignore red flags.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Let Unemployment Fraud Trouble You this Tax SeasonThu, Jan 28, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – Tax season is upon us. This year, unfortunately, many Arkansans have the added stress of dealing with fraudulent unemployment compensation claims when filing their taxes. Victims of unemployment fraud may have income wrongfully reported in their name that could add to their tax burden. Many consumers have been rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information due to this type of fraud.
“Con artists who try to steal from taxpaying Arkansans will be caught,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will always hold these criminals accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Attorney General Rutledge offers the following tips for Arkansans filing their tax returns who have encountered unemployment fraud.
- Be sure that you have contacted the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or completed the secure fraud reporting form online at dws.arkansas.gov.
- After filing the initial police report, send a copy to the Department of Workforce Services to stop the fraudulent income from being reported to the IRS.
- Do not report the fraudulent earnings as your own or file an amended return.
- Independently contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to review your earnings for accuracy. This step could take several weeks for the SSA to update their records.
- Review the IRS Guide to Employment-Related Identity Theft at www.irs.gov.
- Additionally, consumers can also protect their identity and personal information by contacting the three credit bureaus.
For more information about unemployment fraud contact, the Attorney General’s Office at OAG@ArkansasAG.gov.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Throw Away Your Stimulus Debit CardWed, Jan 13, 2021
LITTLE ROCK – The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department have begun delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP), or stimulus payments, as a part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments in 2020. The IRS began sending the initial round of payments in late December 2020 by direct deposit and by mailing checks or debits cards. Arkansans who received a paper check or debit card in the first round of stimulus payments in 2020 could expect to receive a check or debit card this time also.
“Many Arkansans are in dire need of this stimulus payment,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “This is not a scam and please do not throw away a white envelope with the U.S. Department of Treasury seal without opening it.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure Arkansans receive their Economic Impact Payments:
- The card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal.
- Most individuals will receive $600 and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return and $600 for each qualifying child.
- Couples filing jointly with just one member of the couple with a work-eligible Social Security Number will now be eligible for payments for the taxpayers and their qualifying children.
- People do not need to take any action right now to receive their stimulus payment. Eligible individuals who do not receive their payment or who did not receive their first stimulus payment can claim it (under the Recovery Rebate Credit) when they file their 2020 tax return this year. People who do not normally file tax returns should also file a 2020 tax return if they do not receive their stimulus payment.
- Stimulus payments that are received in December 2020 or January 2021 by direct deposit will be automatically protected from garnishment by debt collectors. That is not true of payments that are claimed on the 2020 tax return and paid later in the year as part of the regular tax refund.
- Payments are being issued based on information the IRS already has on file, people will not be able to add new bank account information or request to receive their payment by EIP Card.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Let Scam Utility Bill Calls Ruin Your HolidaysThu, Dec 3, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, scam artists are using an age-old con to mislead Arkansans into believing their utility bills are unpaid. Scammers will call consumers using high pressure tactics and tell consumers that they must pay immediately over the phone, by money order, or bitcoin or their service will be turned off. This is absolutely false and a prime indicator of a scam.
“Arkansans should be skeptical of unsolicited calls in which the person is demanding immediate payment by phone and claiming that a water, electric or gas bill is late,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge Arkansans to hang up and reach out to the utility company directly, using the number on their last bill or the company’s website to determine the status of their bill.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:
- Contact the utility company directly by calling the listed number and verifying the amount owed.
- 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 bank account draft system, if it is offered.
- Mail the payment to the company directly.
The scammer may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the amount owed. The scammer will ask for the code on the purchased card, which gives them complete access to money on the card. In most cases, once the prepaid card money is depleted, it cannot be recovered. Remember, utilities will not require you to pay by gift card or prepaid debit card – only scammers do that.
Arkansans should notify the company if they have been contacted by one of these scammers. If Arkansans have turned over money to the scammer, file a complaint with the Attorney General.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Better Watch Out for Scam Artists Coming to TownMon, Nov 23, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The most popular shopping days are upon Arkansans and whether shopping online or in-store, scammers can get pretty creative when trying to steal money from consumers. Con artists will take any opportunity to steal money, personal information, or even your identity this holiday season.
“It’s important for Arkansans to always be careful whether they are shopping online or in-store this Christmas season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Far too often, I’ve seen the lengths that scam artists will go to in an attempt to steal money from hard-working Arkansans.”
Attorney General Rutledge provides the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:
- Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the abbreviation “https” in the web address to be sure information is secure and to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.
- Read and understand return, refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.
- Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if his or her credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
- Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.
- Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check out the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.
- Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants while doing business. Merchants may email important information about purchases.
- Promptly and thoroughly review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases. Notify the credit or debit card issuer immediately if a card or checkbook is lost or stolen or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.