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Attorney General Alerts

AG ALERT: Research Charities When Giving to Hurricane Florence Victims

AG ALERT: Research Charities When Giving to Hurricane Florence Victims

Wed, Sep 19, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Scenes of destruction left by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina have left many Arkansans wanting to find a way to help. But Arkansans should use caution and take time to research, ensuring their donations are actually used toward helping our fellow Americans. Following natural disasters, the Attorney General’s Office often receives reports of unscrupulous “charities” targeting the kind and generous spirit of Arkansans wanting to assist those in need.

“Scammers often create fake organizations by selecting a name and logo similar to an existing, legitimate organization that actually helps those in need,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These scammers provide limited information, while still trying to tug at the heartstrings of potential donors to convince them the ‘charity’ is legitimate. Arkansans must remain vigilant and do research to know how their money will be used.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumer give to only legitimate charities:

Also be wary of charities that pop up quickly in response to Hurricane Florence and other emergencies. Even if they are legitimate, they oftentimes do not have a system in place to get donations to those in need. Consider giving to an established organization which helps disaster victims in the area.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Scammers Stealing Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Scammers Stealing Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Wed, Sep 12, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Consumers should be on alert for persons calling and claiming to be government officials. The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints of callers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and even the Attorney General’s Office. And now Arkansans are reporting receiving calls from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration and requesting social security numbers and bank account information.

“The government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If the caller is requesting personal or financial information and claiming to be a government agency, hang up, find the phone number from an official source and call the agency directly. It is important for Arkansans to know who they are talking to at the other end of the phone line.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government imposter:

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers, unless the caller is trusted and his/her identity has been confirmed.
  • Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.
  • The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please 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: Alarm System Scams

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Alarm System Scams

Wed, Sep 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Consumers should be on the alert for door-to-door sales people using scare tactics to sell home alarm systems. The Attorney General’s Office receives complaints against home alarm systems and monitoring services for violations of the Home Solicitations Sales Act, including high pressure sales, misrepresentations of products, failure to provide a copy of the contract and others.

“Arkansas law provides specific protections for consumers purchasing items from a door-to-door salesperson,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office is here to protect consumers with education and awareness. At times, this requires legal action to respond to bad actors trying to take advantage of Arkansans.”

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 the system details and notification procedures.
  • The solicitor may suggest the existing security system needs an “upgrade,” when the salesperson actually represents a different company. This may lead a homeowner to believe the system must be “upgraded” just to remain reliable.
  • The salesperson offers “free installation.” The homeowner may think it is a bargain, but many “free installation” offers are coupled with long-term, high-cost monitoring contracts. In the long run, the “free” offer may be the most expensive of all.

Arkansans who may have been victimized by these practices are encouraged to contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office.

Last week, Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Alert America LLC for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Alert America sold third-party alarm monitoring services, and many of its contracts included prepaid service contracts. When Alert America closed its business, it failed to remit payments to the third party, leaving Arkansans with discontinued services they had prepaid. The Attorney General’s Office has discovered at least 67 affected Arkansans. Some consumers reported losing more than $1,000.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please 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 IRS Scam Picks Up Speed Again

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: The IRS Scam Picks Up Speed Again

Wed, Aug 29, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are dusting off the IRS scam and intimidating Arkansans once again by trying to convince innocent consumers that they owe back taxes that must be paid immediately. Consumers have recently been contacting the Attorney General’s office reporting that the scammers are spoofing phone numbers and posing as the IRS.

“Scammers continually use new strategies to frighten Arkansans,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “There are various versions of this scam. Consumers should know that the IRS may send multiple letters, but will never make threatening phone calls.”

The IRS continues to remind consumers that these scam calls are recognizable and that the agency will not do the following:

  • Call demanding immediate payment. The IRS will not call if taxes are owed without first sending a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that taxes are paid without providing the individual the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Require a specific form of tax payment. For example, the IRS will not demand payment by prepaid debit card.
  • Ask consumers for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to make an arrest for not paying taxes.

The IRS encourages Arkansans to not to give out personal information during any unsolicited phone call from the IRS and to hang up immediately, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 to report the call and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency also requests that any scam emails be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS encourages Arkansans with any questions about owed taxes to contact their office directly at (800) 829-1040.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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AG ALERT: Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Wed, Aug 22, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Many college students take out loans to help pay for higher education, but scammers prey on those in debt with student loan forgiveness “programs.” Scammers will pose as government agencies offering to help with complicated federal student loan debt or claim to be independent organizations that are aware of new changes in repayment programs. But offers that do not come from an assigned federal loan servicer are a scam.

“Student loan debt can be intimidating,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Con artists often make unrealistic promises, such as drastically reducing or doing away with monthly payments altogether. While this may seem attractive at first, it can be detrimental in the long run, accumulating interest and potentially sliding into default. Some of these scammers will even charge for their assistance.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following red flags of a student loan forgiveness scam:

  • Borrowers are instructed to stop paying on the loans
  • Borrowers are offered a promise of guaranteed reduced payments and/or loan forgiveness
  • The scammer requests Federal Student Aid username or passwords (FSA ID)
  • Borrowers are instructed to ignore letters or emails from a federal loan servicer
  • The scammer stressed the difficulty for the average person to navigate the Federal Student Aid system

If Arkansans believe they have been a victim of one of these companies, they should contact the federal loan service and update account information by changing all passwords and cancel any automatic withdrawal payments.

Financial aid basics and student loan repayment questions can be answered at StudentLoans.gov. The National Student Loan Data System is the Department of Education’s central database and has information for the specific federal loan servicer assigned to collect student loan payments.

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: Google Tracking Locations

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Google Tracking Locations

Wed, Aug 15, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Simply turning off the Location History for Google accounts does not stop the tech company from tracking a user’s location. According to an investigation published this week by the Associated Press, Google can track time-stamped location data from devices when the maps feature, browser or even the weather app is opened. But there is a way to stop the company from tracking locations.
“Google is a popular web browser and email provider across the country,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “While we often expect privacy from these companies, in reality we must take extra steps to turn off location functions to prevent the company from peering into our daily schedules.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following information about Google’s location tracking:

  • Location tracking is necessary to use some phone apps such as Google Maps.
  • Location tracking can be helpful when searching for information like the weather, shopping, restaurants and lodging.
  • For most apps, location setting options such as “always,” “while using the app” or “never” are available. An explanation of these terms can be found in the app settings.
  • Changes need to be made to the Google account to turn off location tracking.
  • To turn off location tracking, Google users can open the account, access account information from the drop down menu at the top right corner. iPhone users may click on Personal Info & Privacy, go to My Activity, open Activity Controls and turn off the toggle at Web & App Activity. (Android users can find this under Data & Personalization.)

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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