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Attorney General Alerts

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Go Phishing for Love in All the Wrong Places

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Go Phishing for Love in All the Wrong Places

Wed, Feb 5, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Dating apps can be like a box of chocolates, but the surprise may be far less sweet. Valentine’s Day is another opportunity for con artists to take advantage of Arkansans putting their hearts and money on the line to find love. By using false pictures and information, a perfect “match” could be a set up for a scam.

“Meeting new people and dating has turned digital, with more than 1,500 dating apps available,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With so many ‘fish in the sea,’ Arkansans hope to catch a good one, but there is a risk. Keep your private information private and use caution and commonsense when looking for love online.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for social media users:

  • Share your hopes and dreams, not your salary and bank information.
  • Be honest about your expectations, not your pin number.
  • Reveal your hobbies, not your passwords.
  • Open your heart to love, not your wallet to a sob story.
  • Plan to meet in public, not in a private, secluded or an unknown place.
  • Talk about your favorite vacations, not when you’re leaving town.
  • Hope for the best in others, but don’t ignore red flags.

The Attorney General’s Office provides a tip card for consumers, how to spot phishing scams, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and tips on internet safety.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Tax Season is Prime Time for IRS Scammers

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Tax Season is Prime Time for IRS Scammers

Wed, Jan 29, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Tax season is like hunting season for con artists. Between the fear of making a mistake on your taxes, and the increased sophistication of scammers, opportunities are endless for bad actors looking to line their pockets during tax season. Each year, many scammers pose as agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by sending emails with fake tax bills and transcripts to Arkansans. The malicious emails often include an attachment that is not a document from the IRS, but instead infectious malware. The email may even threaten arrest if payment is not received immediately using a gift card, prepaid debt card or wire transfer.

“No matter how convincing an email from an IRS employee may seem, even using your name and home address, no government entity will ever ask for payment from an untraceable source,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is just another shameful attempt at playing with Arkansans’ emotions and stealing their hard-earned money.”

The increase in data breaches has given criminals more access to sensitive information than ever before, helping make their schemes more believable.

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following tips for anyone who receives an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Do not reply to the email.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Delete the original email.

Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Prevent Your Home Security Systems from Being Hacked

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Prevent Your Home Security Systems from Being Hacked

Wed, Jan 22, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Home surveillance systems are designed to increase safety, but recent reports prove they may only be as secure as your passwords. Consumers often use the same passwords for multiple accounts, including these most popular and overused passwords you should never use. In recent years, credentials for more than 8 billion online accounts have been compromised, adding to the necessity of changing login information more frequently.

“Nothing is more important than your family’s safety,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Hackers attacking your home security system could easily have eyes on our families, so just like changing the battery in a smoke alarm, we need to make changing our sensitive passwords a priority.”

Once a device such as a router or camera in your home is compromised, hackers can often connect to other systems. Since the security breach is through your own home system and not the security camera company, every camera or device connected to the internet is at risk.

Attorney General Rutledge offers these recommendations to help better secure your home from hackers:

  • Create complex passwords for all accounts, including your cameras, WiFi and router
  • Add two-factor authentication if available
  • Upgrade to a cloud-based system
  • Update devices regularly
  • Choose a surveillance system from a reliable source with excellent customer service

If you receive a call, text or email with an unsolicited confirmation code request, consider changing your password immediately.

If your account is breached, contact your surveillance system provider and local law enforcement.

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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: New Text and Email Scams Target Real Estate Agents

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: New Text and Email Scams Target Real Estate Agents

Wed, Jan 15, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are using trusted names and companies to ask for “favors,” and in turn steal victims’ money. While some scams use fear and threaten arrest or cancelation of services if not paid, others convince people that they will be paid back whatever monies they spend on gift cards. This new scam uses real estate agents’ names to ask co-workers to pick up hundreds of dollars in gift cards for specific reasons such as closing gifts for clients.

“As we become more aware of possible scams, these bad actors are upping their game and using the people we know and trust to get to our money,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “They use familiar names and have believable requests, but when it comes to your money always use an abundance of caution, pick up the phone and call directly.”

Real estate agents can be particularly vulnerable because their name, phone number and place of work are easily accessible, but they are not the only ones susceptible to these scams. Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep Arkansans safe:

  • Managers should instruct their staff on what the company’s purchasing practices are—consider adopting and explaining a policy where the company pays for expenses only through a credit card and that employee personal funds will never be requested
  • Be skeptical of any text or phone call claiming to be a manager or co-worker that does not originate from their telephone number
  • Verify the identity of the caller or person sending the text before acting upon it
  • Remember that if it sounds unusual or too good to be true, then it is probably a scam

Realtors and those involved in the house buying process should also be aware of spoof emails suggesting that closing cost payment account details have suddenly changed. Scammers are skilled at infiltrating email systems and impersonating emails with fake addresses to attempt to divert hefty closing costs to alternate, fraudulent accounts. If you receive such an email, call your realtor or mortgage broker.

For more information or to report fraud, 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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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: REAL ID Enhances National Security Safety Measures

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: REAL ID Enhances National Security Safety Measures

Wed, Jan 8, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – If it is time to renew your driver’s license, consider making the transition to the “REAL ID” now. Beginning October 1, 2020, the REAL ID driver’s license or identification card will be required to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building or facility, including military bases.

“When you make sure your family members have a REAL ID, you are taking the next step in protecting their personal identity from criminals,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “From everyday travel to national security, the REAL ID will enhance our safety from threats both foreign and domestic.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the REAL ID improves the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards as well as help fight terrorism and reduce identity fraud.

To receive the enhanced ID you must present qualifying forms of identification that confirm your full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, proof of address and lawful status. Visit the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration website, here, to find out which qualifying documents you need, or click here for a full list of qualified documents.

Arkansans can get a REAL ID by bringing with them the qualifying forms of identification to these specific regional offices around the State. The cost of the enhanced license remains $40, the same amount as the standard non-enhanced state license. If your license is current, you can convert your license to a REAL ID for a $10 duplicate card charge. REAL IDs have a yellow circle with a white star in the middle on the upper right side of the license.

Though a REAL ID does not expire for 8 years, the renewal process is simpler than when the original enhanced license is obtained. You will only need to bring qualifying forms of identification if your name, gender or Social Security Number have changed or if your date of birth was amended.

The standard driver’s license will remain valid for state-related purposes such as driving, banking and voting. A valid passport will be accepted to board airlines.

For more information or to report fraud, 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 Sweating over Gym Contracts

Avoid Sweating over Gym Contracts

Wed, Jan 1, 2020

Getting in shape is always a top New Year’s Resolution and joining a gym is a popular step in achieving that goal. More than 60 million Americans are members of health clubs and gyms, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. While the decision to join an exercise program or gym can be a pleasant and rewarding experience, sometimes, it’s not.

“Investing in your health is important for your physical and mental wellbeing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But reading the fine print, getting all sales promises in writing and knowing the cancelation and billing policies are crucial in securing your fiscal wellbeing and avoiding any unfortunate surprises.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addresses some concerns received by her office on poor practices at health clubs, and what to look out for before signing on the dotted line.

  • Visit the spa or gym during the hours you would normally attend. Note the condition and cleanliness of the equipment and if the facilities are overcrowded.
  • Compare several gyms in the area.
  • Ask about trial periods so you can sample the gym without obligation to join.
  • Ask about hours of operation and any limits to certain memberships.
  • Do instructors and trainers have special qualifications or expertise to best serve its members?
  • Ask what the cancellation policy is upfront and the costs of any joining or cancellation fees.
  • Consider the form of payment. Remember which bank card or bank account number are on file to make the cancellation process easier.
  • Ask about automatic renewal policies and any recurring annual fees.
  • If signing a contract for a specific time period, are there extenuating circumstances that would allow breaks in the contract such as injury, illness or moving?

Enticing advertisements can sometimes cross over to deception from highly motivated sales people. If a sales person agrees to special perks, waived fees or price changes, always make sure they are in writing – hard copy and electronically- and approved by the manager. The law requires that a copy of the signed contract be given at the time of joining.

Arkansas law allows buyers to cancel the remaining portion of a health spa contract if the buyer becomes permanently disabled or if the buyer moves more than 50 miles from any location operated by the gym. These laws do not apply to most non-profit gyms such as YMCA.

Finally, before joining a health club, consider contacting the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have been filed against the gym.

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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