Attorney General Alerts
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CDC and Other Health Officials are not Going Door-to-Door Performing TestsFri, Mar 20, 2020
LITTLE ROCK - While Arkansans are staying home in an attempt to prevent infection and spread of the COVID-19 virus, con artists are out and about going door-to-door targeting frightened senior citizens. Posing as employees of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these scammers knock on your door and offer to scan you for the COVID-19 virus at a cost of $50. These con artists, who are not licensed medical professionals, swab your nasal cavity and pretend to perform a medical test while you watch. To obtain your “test results,” the scammers ask for your banking information, including credit and debit card numbers, and social security number.
“It is unbelievable that con artists use the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to target Arkansans, especially senior citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The CDC and other health officials are not going door-to-door and performing tests. Arkansans should consult their trusted health care provider or the Arkansas Department of Health regarding COVID-19 testing.”
The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the CDC is not going door-to-door for testing. Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating that they are there to test them for the COVID-19 virus should immediately call local law enforcement and file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Websites Created to Take Advantage of ArkansansThu, Mar 19, 2020
Says, ‘must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information’
LITTLE ROCK - While taking extra precautions to prevent infection and the spread of the COVID-19 virus, don’t forget to be safe online. Con artists have been creating thousands of websites daily, knowing that Americans are turning to the internet for news and information about this pandemic; making it a ripe place to infect your device, steal your information and spread malware.
“Arkansans must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information from reliable sources,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Cyber criminals are spending time creating fake websites, emails and ads that look like they are from legitimate sources to take your money.”
Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to protect Arkansans from con artists:
- Get information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health.
- Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, social security number or banking information.
- Check the URL link for a "lock" icon before you proceed.
- Look for generic email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam” and delete emails that insist you act now.
The Attorney General’s Office has created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19 at ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19. Contact the office with any questions or concerns at (800) 482-8982.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Coronavirus Misinformation Spreading Faster than IllnessWed, Mar 4, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Recent ads on social media are fueling fear surrounding the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Awareness of this virus, and any other contagious illness such as the flu, is imperative to helping slow down and stop the spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Basic hygiene, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, is more effective at preventing the virus than using facemasks. Some alarming ads on social media are giving false information on prevention and illegitimate cures.
“It is important to remain vigilant when avoiding any contagious illness, but some misinformation surrounding Coronavirus is causing undue panic and fraudsters are taking advantage of that fear,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “Like any scam, don’t buy into this hysteria and get your facts from the experts.”
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has activated an incident command center that has the authority to conduct testing and issue quarantine orders as necessary. The ADH updates information regarding tests performed and any positive cases in Arkansas on its website healthy.arkansas.gov.
Under President Trump, the U.S. Government is using its full resources to protect the health and safety of all Americans. Proactive measures have been taken such as travel restrictions, early containment strategies and the creation of the Coronavirus Task Force.
Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General encouraged people to stop buying masks because they do not prevent the general public from catching the virus. However, the absence of masks could keep healthcare workers, who are in contact with numerous viral infections, from getting the protection they need.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus, visit the CDC’s website at CDC.gov/COVID19.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Be Wary of Tax Refund Anticipation LoansThu, Feb 27, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – As April 15 approaches, advertisements for tax refund anticipation loans (RALs) are ramping up. RALs are high-interest loans that must be repaid by the actual tax return proceeds, essentially borrowing your own money. Car dealerships and other businesses selling high priced items often offer to use RALs as down payments. While offers of immediate cash are often attractive, the products could ultimately reduce the total amount of your refund and may even cost you extra money.
“Reading the fine print is critical to not fall victim to a scam or be deceived by a promotion for a refund anticipation loan,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If you estimate your tax refund incorrectly when using the RAL as a down money for a large purchase, you are still responsible to pay the difference that your tax refund does not cover.”
These loans are regulated by the Arkansas Refund Anticipation Loan Act of 2009.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following options for Arkansans to consider before agreeing to have your taxes prepared as part of a RAL.
- Consider the free or low-cost options such as the online Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
- Remember that electronically-filed returns can be deposited in bank accounts in as few as eight days.
- The IRS can also provide refunds by check or prepaid debit card.
- Always get a written list of fees before entering into an agreement or having any tax preparation services performed.
- Many tax preparers like to offer these loans because it attracts new business, but if the tax refund isn’t enough to cover the loan, it can create a headache for consumers.
- Insist on getting any RAL in writing before buying any products or services.
RALs may seem attractive because tax preparations fees can also be covered. But many Arkansans can get free tax preparation services and can therefore save money and keep their entire refund.
The IRS provides a Free File program online that is a federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for approximately 70 percent of taxpayers who earn less than $62,000 in annual adjusted gross income. Eligible consumers can go to IRS.gov and choose from multiple private companies that will file federal returns at no charge.
Some Arkansans may also be eligible to receive free help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Meanwhile, seniors can contact AARP to learn more about the tax preparation services they provide.
For more information about refund anticipation loans and checks, tax preparation and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Warning for Vacation Home Renters Ahead of Spring BreakThu, Feb 20, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Renting personal properties for vacations has gained popularity in recent years with the creation of online marketplaces like Airbnb and VRBO. While the home and condo rentals can give visitors access to experiences they may not get staying in a traditional hotel, it can also allow criminals access to credit card numbers, valuable belongings and sensitive information.
“Vacation rentals make the hosts and visitors vulnerable to theft,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Being aware of risks and taking precautions can protect you and your family from loss.”
With Spring Break weeks away for many Arkansans and a recent uptick in these types of scams, Attorney General Rutledge issued these safety reminders for both hosts and visitors.
Tips for visitors:
- Only rent from reputable, well-known and insured sites.
- Do not move communication and final rental agreements and payments off the trusted website, even if a lower price is promised.
- Be aware if you are renting the whole property, or if the host will be on-site.
- Communicate with the host about your expectations.
- Pay attention to other travelers’ reviews of the property.
- Feel uneasy? Do not rent.
Tips for hosts:
- Only list your property on reputable, well-known and insured sites.
- Add watermarks to photos used for rental postings to make it more difficult for scammers to copy the photos and use them in fraudulent postings.
- Only conduct business on the website, even if the renter wants to pay in cash or requests a lower rate.
- Take, lock up or hide your personal belongings such as bank account information, personal identification information, valuables or sentimental belongings.
- Clearly disclose on the listing any area of the rental property that is off limits.
- Feel uneasy? Do not rent.
Do not be swayed by lower prices or waived fees if offered to conduct business off the reputable site. Communicating and booking outside the website causes safeguards such as insurance and company-wide scam prevention strategies to no longer be valid. If possible, verify the host or renters identity ahead of the stay. Other red flags include properties with few reviews and not enough photos on an advertised site.
If you believe a rental property scam has occurred, contact local law enforcement and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: 2020 Census ScamsWed, Feb 12, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau has the important job of counting every living person in our country. Beginning in mid-March, an invitation to participate will either be mailed or hand delivered to each home. If no response is received by May either by mail, online or over the phone, census takers will begin visiting homes and can return up to six times until the questionnaire is completed.
“This is one time every person will be contacted by a government entity,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It’s important for Arkansans to know which questions will and will not be asked by the Census Bureau and not fall prey to scammers pretending to be the Census Bureau.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the questionnaire asks:
- How many people are in the home?
- What is their sex, age, race and ethnicity?
- What is their relationship to one another?
- What is the best phone number to reach you?
- Do you own or rent the home?
For a full list of questions, go to 2020census.gov. According to the U.S Census Bureau, every answer is confidential and answers will only be used for statistical purposes.
The following information will NEVER be asked by the Census Bureau:
- Social Security number.
- Money or donations.
- Bank or credit card account information.
- Anything on behalf of or about a political party.
If you are asked these questions by a person claiming to be the with Census Bureau, it is a scam and you should not cooperate with them. Instead, hang up and report the call to the Census Bureau by calling 800-923-8282.
Some households will receive follow-up phone calls from the Census Bureau to ensure quality control. To help distinguish between legitimate Census Bureau calls and scammers, check out “Are You in a Survey? Help for Survey Participants” on the Census Bureau’s website.
If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative or call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or email@example.com. For more scam alerts, visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.