Attorney General Alerts
Your Identity is Stolen. Now What?Thu, May 7, 2015
Identity thieves can hit at any time, wrecking your financial integrity. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network, nearly 2,500 Arkansans filed ID theft complaints in 2014, ranking the Natural State 15th in victims of identity theft.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate consumers on the steps they should take to restore their credit if their identity is stolen.
“My office is committed to helping victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We have counselors available to guide consumers through the process of recovering their credit, and offer ID Theft Passports to assist victims in re-establishing their good names.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for those who have fallen victim to ID thieves:
- File a fraud alert with one of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
- File a police report with your local law enforcement and get a copy of the report as soon as it is available.
- Get a copy of an identity theft booklet, which provides step-by-step instructions for dealing with identity thieves, including affidavits and forms for your financial institutions.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Cancel any accounts you believe have been compromised or have been opened fraudulently.
- Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report to restrict access and help prevent additional instances of identity theft.
- Consider applying for an ID Theft Passport from the Attorney General’s Office.
Although credit card fraud is one of the most talked about forms of identity theft benefits fraud from government documents is more prevalent in Arkansas, making up more than a quarter of ID theft types, according to the FTC.
Many consumers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information and want to prevent fraud and identity theft. Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to never give their personal information over the phone or via email, to use strong passwords on all online accounts and to be diligent in reviewing all types of financial statements.
Committing identity theft in Arkansas is a felony and comes with a sentence that could include incarceration, fines up to $25,000 and restitution. The Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts reported 150 ID theft convictions in 2014.
For more information on identity theft, to apply for an ID Theft Passport or other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General's Office at (800) 482-8982.
Be Cautious When Helping With International DisastersThu, Apr 30, 2015
recent report in AtlasofGiving.com ranks Arkansas as one of the top 10 states for charitable giving in 2014, and many Arkansans will continue that trend by helping those in Nepal who are suffering in the aftermath of last Saturday’s devastating earthquake.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage Arkansans who are looking for ways to help the Himalayan region to be cautious when donating to relief efforts.
“Scammers often prey on charitable people,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Con artists exploit our generosity with new versions of old schemes, but Arkansans should arm themselves with the knowledge to tell a reputable nonprofit organization from a charity scam.”
To make sure that your donation fulfills its intended purpose, Attorney General Rutledge suggests taking the following steps before donating:
- If you receive a phone or door-to-door solicitation for donations, don’t immediately get out your checkbook or credit card. High-pressure sales tactics are a red flag that you may be dealing with an unscrupulous charity.
- Do your research. Get the organization’s name, address, website and phone number, or give directly to a known nonprofit of your choice. Make sure the nonprofit organization is registered with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
- Use GuideStar.org to compare nonprofit organizations and to get more information.
- Ask the organization how it will spend your donation.
- Watch out for similar but different organization names as some con artists will use names like those of existing, reputable nonprofits in order to trick consumers.
- Do not give out financial or personal information over the phone or through email to an unknown entity. This information could fall into the wrong hands, or the scammers could use it to steal your money or identity.
- Never send cash. Make check or credit card payments for increased security and tax purposes.
- If you wish to donate through a text message, verify the organization’s number before doing so.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that did wide-ranging damage especially in the capital city of Kathmandu is the worst to hit the country in 80 years. The death toll is reported to be over 5,000 people with more than 9,200 injured.
For more information on charitable scams, to check the status of a specific nonprofit organization, or to look into an organization’s financial reports, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office Public Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.
Disposing of Unused or Expired Prescription MedicationsThu, Apr 23, 2015
Many Arkansans have unused or expired prescription medications because they are unsure of how to properly dispose of them.
Common disposal mistakes include flushing medication down the toilet, crushing pills or throwing them in the trash. All of these methods pose serious health and safety hazards. The safest disposal method is to give the medication to law enforcement at Arkansas’s Take Back Day on Saturday, April 25.
More than 130 police stations and community centers across the State are providing a safe disposal option with secure drop boxes or staffing stations for Arkansans to discard unwanted and expired medication with no questions asked. The medications will be taken to an off-site location and disposed of safely by law enforcement.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans about the dangers of unused prescription drugs and proper prescription drug disposal methods available to clear out their medicine cabinets and drawers.
“Take Back Day is an important initiative to make our communities safer,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This innovative program not only prevents children from getting their hands on medication that could be harmful and even deadly, but also prevents the chemicals from contaminating waterways and soil if disposed of improperly.”
Medications can be very harmful, even if expired, because they are still chemically active. If the prescription drugs are merely left in medicine cabinets or thrown away, they can be accessed or abused by children or adults, possibly resulting in hospitalization or death.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly 5 million pounds of prescription medications have been taken out of circulation through Take Back events nationally including over sixty-two tons of that amount were medications disposed of through Arkansas’s Take Back events, which began in 2010.
This year’s event is sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office, the office of the Arkansas Drug Director, both Arkansas United States Attorney’s Offices, the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas Department of Health and 170 agencies that make up the Arkansas Prescription Drug Coalition.
A complete list of collection sites for the 2015 Take Back Day, as well as permanent, year-round collection sites, is available at artakeback.org. Take Back sites will be open for collections from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25. Law enforcement officials at the sites will be collecting prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers, and medicine samples.
For consumer-related questions, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.
Be ResponsibleFri, Apr 17, 2015
In an effort to keep our communities safe, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging those who consume alcohol to do it responsibly. April is Alcohol Responsibility Awareness Month. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is asking everyone to learn more about the importance of alcohol responsibility. This month is also a good time to remind Arkansans about the dangers of drinking and driving.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the number of drunk driving fatalities in Arkansas has dropped 27 percent since 2009, but alcohol is still a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic deaths across the State.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility notes that car crashes are one of the leading causes of death among teens, and in 2013, 29 percent of young adults killed in crashes had a blood alcohol level of .01 or higher. Also in 2013, Arkansas had more than 120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, with 16 of those involving impaired drivers under the age of 21. More than 7,800 Arkansans were arrested that same year for driving under the influence.
Attorney General Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving and the importance of responsible alcohol consumption for those who decide to drink.
“For many years we have been hearing about the dangers of drinking and driving, but the problem persists,” said Rutledge. “Long-term alcohol consumption can decrease brain function and alertness. This is why it is imperative to educate Arkansans of all ages about alcohol responsibility.”
Responsibility.org advises parents to begin talking with their children about alcohol consumption when they are old enough to ask questions about what their parents are drinking or ask to taste. The conversation should continue through college to make sure teens and young adults know the health and safety risks of over consumption and impaired driving.
The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers who make the choice to consume alcohol away from their home:
- Designate a non-drinking driver before the event starts.
- Don’t let your friends drive impaired. Take their keys away.
- If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver, offer alcohol-free beverages and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
The solution to this problem does not just rest in the hands of law enforcement. Individuals must make the conscious decision to not drink and drive.
For more information about alcohol responsibility, visit responsibility.org.
For consumer-related questions, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (800) 482-8982.
Don’t Let a Lemon Leave a Sour TasteFri, Apr 10, 2015
Arkansas’s Lemon Law provides a safety net for some purchasers whose vehicles have recurring problems. Any vehicle less than two years old or which has less than 24,000 miles is covered under the State's Lemon Law. Any recurring problem, including defects that impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle, could trigger this protection.
Many problems with newer cars can be repaired by the dealer at no cost to the purchaser. Occasionally however, a vehicle may experience the same issue or defect several times. When this occurs, Arkansas consumers have the right to request a refund or replacement of the vehicle through the Lemon Law dispute resolution process.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans on how they can protect themselves with the Arkansas New Motor Vehicle Quality Assurance Act, or Lemon Law. State Lemon Laws outline consumer rights and procedures if a vehicle develops a significant problem that cannot be repaired after a certain number of attempts.
“Lemon Law claims can be filed by following a few easy steps and without consumers hiring an attorney,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “My office has issued ‘A Consumer’s Guide to the Arkansas Lemon Law’ to help Arkansans who believe they may have purchased a lemon.”
Any consumer who buys, leases or licenses a new motor vehicle in the State of Arkansas is covered by the Lemon Law during the term of the manufacturer’s warranty for up to two years after the original delivery date of the vehicle, or for the first 24,000 miles, whichever is longer. If the vehicle is transferred to someone else during this period, that owner or person leasing the vehicle is also covered under the Lemon Law.
The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers who notice nonconformities after purchasing a new vehicle:
- Read the Lemon Law Handbook that the car dealer provides at the time of purchase. If you need a second copy, you can obtain one from the Attorney General’s Office or by clicking here.
- Report problems to the dealer or manufacturer immediately and take your vehicle to the dealer for evaluation.
- Keep repair receipts and a complete record of contacts with the dealer and manufacturer and visits to repair shops.
- Use the form letters in the Lemon Law Handbook to send a “demand letter” to the manufacturer, along with a copy to the Independent Dispute Settlement Program.
Arkansas’s Lemon Law does not cover mopeds, motorcycles, the living quarters of motor homes or most vehicles weighing more than 13,000 pounds. The law also does not cover vehicles that have been substantially altered after its initial sale from the dealer.
For more information on consumer-related topics, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or ArkansasAG.gov.
Hail Storm Could Come TwiceThu, Apr 2, 2015
Spring is officially here, but with the milder temperatures comes the increased possibility of severe weather. Arkansans know all too well the damage that can occur from tornados, sudden downpours, lightning and hail.
Just this week, several storm systems passed through the Natural State, dropping hail as large as baseballs in some areas. These storms may be quick, but can cause lasting and severe damage to vehicles, sometimes even breaking windshields.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s alert to urge consumers to be cautious as they look for vehicle repair services, and to be aware of con artists who offer these services unsolicited following severe weather. Rutledge also wants consumers to be aware of their rights and beware of the risks when buying damaged cars post-storm in ‘hail sales.’
“After severe weather, scammers pose as ethical contractors offering to repair the dings and dents caused by hail,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Repairs can already be costly and time consuming without the threat of these con artists victimizing Arkansans. Further, some car dealerships will attempt to sell damaged cars to unsuspecting consumers at full price without disclosing the damage upfront.”
Oftentimes, repair con artists will charge higher than normal prices and demand up-front payment for services, but ultimately leave jobs incomplete or fail to begin the work at all.
The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers who experience hail damage and need to repair their vehicles:
- Select a reputable repairer. Seek advice from family and friends about servicemen they trust, and never be afraid to ask the person or body shop for references.
- Get more than one estimate. This allows consumers to compare prices and avoid overpaying.
- Get everything in writing. A contract should contain details about the price of the work and any agreement on financing. It should indicate the exact work to be done, the type, and quality of materials to be used and the expected completion date.
- Never pay in advance. Consumers should always inspect the work before making the final payment to make sure the repairs meet their expectations.
Dents and dings caused by hail damage seldom affect the mechanics of a vehicle, but if consumers are planning to participate in a ‘hail sale’ they should be prepared. Buyers should obtain a disclosure of the damage in writing from the seller and also check with their own insurance carriers to see how the hail damage may impact coverage of future repairs.
For information on this and other consumer related topics, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is (800) 482-8982, or visit the Attorney General’s website at www.ArkansasAG.gov.