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Attorney General Alerts

Secret Santa Scam Returns

Secret Santa Scam Returns

Wed, Nov 28, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans should be weary of the Secret Santa, or Secret Sister, scam making its way across social media once again this year. The scam requests other users send relatively inexpensive gifts to others, in exchange for the promise of receiving gifts. At the very least, participants will send gifts without getting anything in return. At worst, scammers use personal information posted on social media to participate, often leading to identity theft.

“The Secret Santa scam often starts with a scammer posting a request for friends to participate, which is then innocently shared and re-posted over and over by linked friends,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “But this innocent request can be a dangerous scam and open Arkansans up to identity theft.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers to avoid this holiday scam:

  • Consumers should never disclose their personal information to an unknown entity unless they know it to be a trusted source as such disclosures could result in identity theft or the opening of other accounts in their name.
  • It is unlikely that a consumer will actually receive gifts in response to such a scheme; thus, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Consult the terms of use for Facebook and other forms of social media as they may prohibit schemes like this one.
  • Review guidance available from the U.S. Postal Service because it may be illegal.
  • Consumers should safeguard their banking and personal, financial information in order to prevent financial losses due to scams.
  • When using the internet, consumers should ensure that they are using a verified, secure, and encrypted website when sharing any personal or financial information online.

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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Avoid At-Home Dangers During the Holiday Season

Avoid At-Home Dangers During the Holiday Season

Wed, Nov 21, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Decking the halls for the upcoming holiday season can quickly become dangerous. If Arkansans do not use extreme caution, injuries can easily occur. Caution and planning can help avoid unnecessary accidents and injuries, which can interrupt holiday fun.

“It is important that we make personal safety a priority, even during the happy holiday planning,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Accidents happen, but many are preventable. Small mistakes that we may consider insignificant, can lead to dangerous problems through carelessness. Most accidents are avoidable by taking extra time during preparations.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans planning to hang lights this holiday season:

  • Select lights with labels indicating they have been safety tested by independent laboratories.
  • Check each set of lights. Look for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard or repair them, if necessary, before use.
  • When using lights outdoors, make sure they are certified for outdoor use and are securely fastened to protect against damaging winds.
  • Only use insulated staples or hoods to affix lights. Never use nails or tacks.
  • Do not use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord, and ensure that each extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Always turn off or unplug lights when you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Never leave a candle unattended and keep them on a stable surface and away from items that can burn easily, like trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 14,500 emergency room visits for falls, lacerations and back strains while decorating for the holidays. Meanwhile, fires are also a concern with burning candles and fresh Christmas trees that are not properly watered.

Use caution when climbing ladders and make sure all locks are properly engaged, keep your body near the middle of the step and face the ladder while climbing. Avoid using the top step of the ladder unless it was designed of that purpose.

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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Holiday Season Scams Using Legitimate-Sounding Charity Names

Beware of Holiday Season Scam Artists Using Legitimate-Sounding Charity Names

Wed, Nov 14, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – The holidays bring out the best in Arkansans, but there are some who try to take advantage of our kind hearts by posing as a charitable organization helping Arkansans during the holiday season. Scam artists can use similar-sounding names to legitimate charities and may often be pushy, but provide little information.

“Arkansans are known for generosity during the holiday season," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “While Giving Tuesday is a big day for donations, we know Americans often give more than on just one allotted day. Leading up to the season of giving, it is important for each of us to thoroughly research where we send our money to ensure that it is helping the most people possible.”

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

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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Protect Your Identity While Online Shopping

Protect Your Identity While Online Shopping

Wed, Nov 7, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Every year, countless American shoppers fall victim to identity thieves by not following a few simple rules while shopping online. Arkansans need to keep track of purchases and a watchful eye on bank and credit card statements to ensure transactions are legitimate.

“Arkansans need to remain guarded when it comes to protecting personal and financial information,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals often have us all shopping online more, but predatory scam artists are ready and waiting for an opportunity to steal your money.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of consumers cited online shopping as the most popular shopping destination this year. They also expect holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent over last year. That means consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,007.24 this year on gifts.

Also, research companies before finalizing the online purchase to ensure it is a credible merchant, and check the anticipated delivery date to make sure it will be delivered in time for the holidays.

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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Low Temperatures Can Mean Higher Savings

Low Temperatures Can Mean Higher Savings

Wed, Oct 31, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – As fall season kicks into high gear, temperatures drop which means home heating costs begin impacting families’ budgets across Arkansas. But there are steps consumers can take to stay warm and save money.

“By taking a few practical steps we can find the balance of keeping warm and saving money,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is unknown what winter will bring this year, but as temperatures drop, keeping energy costs down is important to every family.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to save energy costs through the colder months:

· Keep curtains open during the day for natural heat, and close them at night to retain the heat.

· Use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature when no one is home.

· Seal cracks or holes around the home by weather-stripping doors and windows and adding insulation to walls, the attic and crawlspace to prevent it from losing heat.

· Set ceiling fans to spin clockwise to recirculate rising warm air.

· Make sure baseboard heaters, air vents and radiators are not obstructed.

· Service the heating system at least once a year to ensure it is operating properly.

· Consult with a licensed plumber regarding potential options to insulate the water heater to spend less to heat the water.

· Close the vents and doors to rooms that are not being used.

· Keep air filters clean and replace regularly.

Use caution while using space heaters. Always keep them away from flammable materials and consider the impact it could have on the energy bill. The Department of Energy reports that space heaters account for about 45 percent of energy bills in average U.S. homes.

Also, be cautious of products claiming to drastically lower heating costs and avoid unsolicited high-pressure sales calls for visits from contractors offering furnaces, windows, roofing and other home-improvement projects. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Arkansans having trouble paying heating or electricity bills this winter should learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program.

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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Trick-or-Treating Doesn’t Have to be Scary

Trick-or-Treating Doesn’t Have to be Scary

Wed, Oct 24, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Some Halloween costumes and decorations are meant to be scary, but Arkansans can take certain precautions to avoid unnecessary scares this year. Various activities surrounding Halloween are often distractions to important measures we can all take to keep our children and night free from danger.

“Trick-or-treating is a fun activity for all kids,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “But as adults, we need to also remember to keep them safe. This includes visiting trusted neighborhoods, choosing a safe costume and staying visible while on the streets.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to parents to avoid unexpected and unnecessary problems on Halloween:

  • Select flame-resistant materials, masks, beards and wigs and try to avoid baggy sleeves and billowing skirts.
  • Choose costumes with light or bright colors whenever possible, or trim a darker costume with reflective tape. Consider also having children carry a flashlight to make sure they can see the walking path and are visible to drivers.
  • To avoid tripping and falling, choose costumes that fit well and do not drag on the ground.
  • Make sure masks fit securely, have adequate ventilation and provide unobstructed views. Consider applying make-up to children’s faces instead of selecting loose-fitting masks.
  • Swords, knives and other accessories should be made of soft and flexible materials.
  • Take children to familiar neighborhoods and approach only homes with outside lighting.
  • Remind children of everyday safety rules, such as not getting into cars or talking to strangers, watching both ways before crossing streets and crossing with the stop light at an intersection when they are trick-or-treating.
  • Adults should always accompany small children to caution them against running into streets and across lawns or driveways. Please use sidewalks where available.
  • Encourage children to wait until they get home to eat candy so that adults can inspect the goodies.
  • Parents should throw away any treats that are not commercially wrapped or appear to be tampered with.

Rutledge also reminds drivers to keep an eye out for children darting out from between parked cars or walking on roadways, curbs or streets. Moving vehicles can be the biggest danger. Motorists should enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully and watch attentively for children in dark clothing at dusk.

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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