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Attorney General Alerts

Door-to-Door Salespeople Springing into Action

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Door-to-Door Salespeople Springing into Action

Wed, Mar 27, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Spring is in full swing, but the warmer temperatures often bring scammers who try to sell products door-to-door. The Attorney General’s office regularly receives complaints each year about door-to-door salespeople using scare tactics and violations of the Home Solicitations Sales Act to sell home alarm systems.

“The Arkansas Home Solicitations Sales Act provides important protections for consumers,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “High pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations of products and failure to provide a copy of the contract are just some of the common illegal practices utilized by door-to-door salespeople. My office is here to educate Arkansans about their rights and to fight for consumers when a business violates the law.”

Attorney General Rutledge provided the below tips for consumers to help spot an unscrupulous door-to-door salesperson:

  • Consumers have a right to review the contract outside the presence of the sales agent and cancel the contract without obligation within three days of the home solicitation sale. The sales agent must provide the consumer written notice of this right to cancel along with the proposed contract.
  • High-pressure tactics are rarely employed by companies whose business depends on providing quality customer service. A legitimate company will allow consumers to weigh options and will review with the consumer the details of the sale and features of the product or service.
  • The solicitor may suggest that an existing service or product needs an “upgrade,” when the salesperson actually represents a different company. This may lead a homeowner to believe the service or product must be “upgraded” to remain reliable.
  • Be wary of home solicitations involving “free installation.” Homeowners may think it is a bargain, but many “free installation” offers are coupled with long-term, high-cost service contracts or other hidden costs. In the long run, the “free” offer may be the most expensive of all.

Arkansans who may have been victimized by deceptive home solicitation sales practices are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s office.

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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Tax Scammers Send Fake Letters

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Tax Scammers Send Fake Letters

Wed, Mar 20, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – With tax season deadline looming, scammers continue to adapt when seeking ways to instill fear and intimidate Arkansans. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has received reports of a scam being sent through the mail which appears to be a letter from the so-called “Bureau of Tax Enforcement for Pulaski County”—an entity that does NOT exist—claiming the recipient owes money to another state.

“Scammers are determined to steal your hard-earned money and will go to great lengths to intimidate Arkansans,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The Bureau of Tax Enforcement for Pulaski County is a fake, unlawful organization and these letters often to do not provide a return address, only a phone number.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to use if Arkansans have received a similar letter:

  • Contact the local tax office to make sure you have no outstanding bills.
  • Do not verify sensitive information such as social security number and banking information; verifying that information could lead to identity theft.
  • File a police report with your local law enforcement.
  • If consumers have questions, then contact the Attorney General’s office.

The scam letter may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the “debt.” 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.

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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Favorite Grandchild Scam Fools Arkansans

Favorite Grandchild Scam Fools Arkansans

Wed, Mar 13, 2019

Elderly Arkansans are often a target of con artists, and one of the most convincing ones is called the favorite grandchild scam. This scam involves a scammer calling an elderly individual, saying they are his/her favorite grandchild and are in trouble and need money wired immediately. Grandparents are often willing to do whatever it takes to help their grandchild, and so they more commonly fall for the scam.

“Under no circumstances should you wire money or give a credit/debit card number to a caller claiming to be a grandchild in jail unless you have verified that information with another close family member,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The caller tricks Arkansans into saying the names of family and then pretends to be that family member in dire need of money.”

Attorney General Rutledge recommends the following strategies to avoid falling victim to the “favorite grandchild” 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 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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Top 10 Complaints of 2018

Top 10 Complaints of 2018

Wed, Mar 6, 2019

In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the top 10 most common complaints the Attorney General’s office received in 2018.

National Consumer Protection Week is a partnership with attorneys general from across the country, along with many national organizations, including the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and AARP, to encourage consumers to understand their rights and make educated consumer decisions.

“At the Attorney General’s Office, we take every complaint seriously and will work diligently to protect Arkansans and hold bad actors accountable,” said Attorney General Rutledge.

The 10 most common complaint categories from 2018 were:

  • Automobile sales, service financing and repair
  • Sales of goods and services
  • Health care
  • Home repair, construction and maintenance
  • Landlord/tenant and real estate
  • Satellite, cable and internet service providers
  • Wireless and landline telephone services
  • Scams and opportunities
  • Credit repairs and other financial services
  • Utilities

After falling to the number two most received complaint in 2017, automobile-related transactions returned to the most common type of complaint reports to the Attorney General’s office in 2018. Last year, automobile sales, service financing and repairs brought in 1,200 complaints. These types of complaints often involve consumers reporting financing errors; high-pressure tactics to buy add-on services at the time of purchase, such as gap insurance, extended warranties; and sales misrepresentations.

Attorney General Rutledge’s office resolved 5,595 formal complaints in 2018. File a complaint online at ArkansasAG.gov.

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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Don’t Get Taken for a Ride by Imposter Car Renewal Websites

Don’t Get Taken for a Ride by Imposter Car Renewal Websites

Wed, Feb 27, 2019

Arkansans are required to annually renew license plate registrations, which can be accomplished online at mydmv.arkansas.gov. Some online companies, however, have created services that may mislead consumers into purchasing material they do not need. This problem occurs when a consumer conducts an internet search and clicks on results for a website that appears to be the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but is instead an unrelated site that directs consumers to purchase a registration renewal how-to pamphlet and not a registration renewal. If consumers fall victim to this problem, then consumers run the risk of failing to renew their tags by the deadline and spending money unnecessarily.

“Using any site except the legitimate government one ending in dot G-O-V will result in lost time and money,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “At the time of renewal, the DMV mails a reminder letter which includes the correct web address to complete the registration purchase online.”

Attorney General Rutledge released to following tips to ensure safety while making purchases online.

  • Avoid using an internet search to find the DMV’s site, and instead type mydmv.arkansas.gov directly on the URL at the top of the page.
  • When submitting purchase information, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the phrase “https” in the URL address for a website to be sure information is secure during transmission.
  • Use a secure browser—software that encrypts or scrambles the purchase information you send over the Internet—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.
  • Check the site’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Also check the site’s statements about the security provided for your information. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others—look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” section of a site.
  • Review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases promptly and thoroughly. Notify your credit or debit card issuer immediately if your credit or debit card or checkbook is lost or stolen, or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.
  • Search for the words “official website” and try to avoid clicking on “ads”
  • The misleading websites will often have an attention pop-up on the front page stating that they are not affiliated with any government agency.

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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Plan Ahead for Potential Destructive Storms

Plan Ahead for Potential Destructive Storms

Wed, Feb 20, 2019

As springtime nears, the threat of severe weather increases. There are steps Arkansans can take to be better prepared heading into a potentially dangerous season, which often brings large amounts of rain, floods, severe storms and tornadoes.

“We often talk about what to do following a natural disaster, but there are steps Arkansans can take ahead of time to prepare for a potential disaster,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge Arkansans to take time to protect your finances and property in advance of the stormy season. These preparations prevent harm to families, promote financial security, and prevent loss of items that may become lost or damaged.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips on how to prepare for potential storms:

  • Create an emergency plan to share with friends, family and neighbors.
  • Heed severe weather warnings. Once a warning is issued, go to a safe place.
  • Secure personal belongings. It is a good idea to always keep an updated record of the descriptions and serial numbers of electronics and other valuables in case they need to be tracked down, replaced or reported to the insurance company after a disaster strikes.
  • Review insurance policies and consult with a qualified agent or broker to assess insurance coverages.

Recent storms have pushed the capacity of the Cache River to major flood watch due to a threatened breach of the levee along the White River. Both Woodruff and Jackson county officials will continue to monitor and notify local residents of the rivers and levees status as wet weather will continue throughout spring.

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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