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Attorney General Alerts

AG ALERT: Staying Safe This Fourth of July

AG ALERT: Staying Safe This Fourth of July

Wed, Jun 27, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Fireworks are an Independence Day tradition that can be dangerous, if not deadly, if not properly handled. As Arkansans begin to plan for Independence Day, it is important to keep in mind that the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports eight fatalities and an estimated 12,900 injuries related to fireworks in the U.S. in 2017.

“Fireworks are a staple at July 4 celebrations across Arkansas,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “While some families attend community fireworks displays, some decide to put on their own show. I urge extreme caution when lighting fireworks because improper use can lead to fires, serious injury or even death.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers planning their own holiday fireworks show:

  • Only buy fireworks from a licensed store, tent or stand.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Supervise children at all times and make sure adults light every firework, including sparklers, which can reach 2,000 degrees.
  • Make sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never relight a malfunctioning firework. Soak the duds in water and throw them away.
  • Do not shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
  • Keep a water hose or bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.

Arkansas’s “Fireworks Act” restricts the types of fireworks that can be sold in the State and the amount of explosive material that each firework may contain.

Firework vendors are required to have a State license. They may not sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 12 or to anyone who appears to be intoxicated. Municipal ordinances may also restrict or regulate fireworks sales and use.

State law only allows exploding fireworks to be sold each year from June 20 to July 10 and from Dec. 10 to Jan. 5. Non-exploding items, such as sparklers and snakes, may be sold throughout the year.

Also consider securing pets during local fireworks displays as many get scared of the loud noises and may try to find a way to get away and seek shelter.

For more information and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Arkansans to Receive New Medicare Cards

Arkansans to Receive New Medicare Cards

Wed, Jun 20, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are starting to receive new Medicare cards in the mail – this is not a scam. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced they are issuing new, paper cards to all Medicare recipients. The new card-issuance process is expected to continue through December 2019.

“CMS is taking important steps to update their system and prevent identity theft,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The new cards will assign a new Medicare number to each individual, and that number will need to be given to doctors and health care providers. Arkansans should look for these cards in the mail, as they are currently being delivered.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Social Security Administration released the below tips about new Medicare cards:

  • New cards will automatically come in the mail. To update an address call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or sign up for a ‘my Social Security’ account (ssa.gov/my account/).
  • The new card will have a new Medicare number that is unique to each individual, instead of Social Security Numbers.
  • Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  • Mailing takes time, and cards can arrive any time before December 2019.
  • The card is now paper, which is easier for many providers to use and copy.
  • When the new Medicare card arrives, destroy the old one and begin using the new card right away.
  • For Medicare Advantage Plans (like a HMO or PPO) participants, the Medicare Advantage Plan ID is the main card for Medicare. Continue to keep and use it for care, however, medical providers may ask to see the new Medicare card as well.
  • Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know the new cards are coming and will ask for it at appointments.
  • Only give the new Medicare number to doctors, pharmacists, health care providers, insurers or individuals helping to manage Medicare coverage.
  • Doctors or other health care providers may be able to look up Medicare numbers online.

For more information and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: The Favorite Grandchild Scam

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: The Favorite Grandchild Scam

Wed, Jun 13, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – A panicked phone call from a person claiming to be a relative needing money right away to get him or her out of some sort of trouble pulls at the heartstrings of elderly Arkansans, but this is more than likely a scam. Con artists continue to disguise themselves as close relatives or favorite grandchildren caught in serious trouble and in need of money wired immediately, often to a location out of the country. With wire transfers similar to cash, the money cannot be retrieved.

“These criminals are ruthless and will stop at nothing to take advantage of innocent Arkansans,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The favorite grandchild scam is common and scary. Protecting the elderly is a priority of my office and it is important to educate all Arkansans about this issue.”

Attorney General Rutledge recommends the following strategies to avoid falling victim to the “favorite grandson” scheme:

  • Resist pressure to act quickly.
  • Never give or wire money based on any unsolicited phone call.
  • Verify the family member’s location by directly calling another family member or the grandchild.
  • Do not send money to an unknown account or entity.
  • Ask the caller for his or her name, and if they cannot provide it, hang up immediately.
  • Have a plan in place when family members are traveling to easily identify whether or not a need is genuine.

For more information and tips on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Apps Allow Teens to Hide Photos from Parents

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: 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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scammers Use Fake Sweepstakes to Steal Cash

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: 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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AG Alert: Apple Support Advisor Scam Uses Scare Tactics

AG Alert: 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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