Attorney General Alerts
Prescription Drug Take Back DayWed, Sep 23, 2015
Nearly 44,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, with more than half of those because of abuse of prescription drugs. The National Institution on Drug Abuse reports that 62 percent of teens abuse prescription drugs because they are easy to obtain from their parent’s medicine cabinet, and prescription drugs are considered a gateway drug, with nearly half of heroin users reporting to have abused prescription drugs before beginning to use heroin.
Saturday is the 11th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office is partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of the State Drug Director, along with 104 law enforcement agencies across the State, to coordinate local drop off events. Law enforcement officers will be available at 126 collection sites to collect and destroy pills in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Since the program began, 72 tons of medication has been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated 201 million individual pills.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage all Arkansans to participate and to inform them of the medications that will be accepted at the drug take-back events.
“It can be dangerous to keep unused prescription medication,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These pills need to be properly disposed of to avoid them falling into the wrong hands and harming loved ones or the environment, which is why I encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and participate in Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day. Prescription Drug Take Back Day allows Arkansans to drop off any unwanted medications, no questions asked, for proper disposal.”
Attorney General Rutledge issued the following list of medications that will be accepted at these events across the State on Saturday.
- Opioids, such as OxyContin
- Stimulants, such as Adderall
- Depressants, such as Ativan
- Other prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Pet medicines
- Medicated ointments and lotions
- Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)
- Medicine samples
Medications may be returned in any container or removed from the original pill bottles for increased privacy.
Properly destroying these medications protects the environment. Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting waters, which could contaminate food and water supplies. Many medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Turning over these medications at the Take Back Day events also reduces the risk of accidental poisonings by children, seniors or pets, as well as reduces the risk of drug abuse. According to DrugFree.org, more than 40 percent of teens who misused or abused prescription drugs got the medicine out of their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.
The Prescription Drug Take Back event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. To find event sites and year-round drop-off locations near you, go to ARTakeBack.org. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced that pharmacies will now be allowed to accept unused prescription medications.
Scammers Pose as Veteran AdvocatesWed, Sep 16, 2015
Navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be an overwhelming process for military men and women of all ages. Veteran advocates are available to guide service members through the system. However, advocates should be accredited with the VA and offer free services, and unfortunately scammers are exploiting the system and stealing from veterans.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate veterans, servicemen and women and military families about ways to spot scam artists posing as legitimate veteran advocates.
“It is terrible that con artists target these brave men and women who serve and protect our country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Dishonest advisors can steer veterans in wrong direction and steal money from them. Some of these ‘advisors’ go to great lengths to appear trustworthy, even renting a storefront or creating a logo that is similar to a trusted advocate program.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for members of the military community looking for assistance.
- Applying for veterans’ benefits is free, and those accredited by the VA are not allowed to charge for assisting or submitting paperwork.
- Confirm that an advocate is accredited through the VA and has been trained to help with completing and submitting claims to the VA by going to the Veterans Service Organizations section of the VA website.
- Research advocate organizations to find out more information about their practices before agreeing to work with them.
- Do not be pressured into agreeing to work with an advocate. Do not spend any money until considering all the options. Advocates should not require payment or advanced fees.
- Only the VA can approve or deny claims. Even advocates who are accredited by the VA cannot promise any specific outcome.
The Federal Trade Commission tracks unscrupulous advocates who encourage veterans to move financial assets to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Shifting money around could result in veterans losing other benefits, including Medicaid. Aid and Attendance benefits help senior veterans who need assistance to pay for in-home care, assisted living facilities or nursing homes and cannot be guaranteed because they are only available in limited circumstances.
Contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office Public Protection Department at 800-482-8982, the VA Office of Inspector General at 800-488-8244 or the Federal Trade Commission at 202-326-2222 to report any issues with veteran advocates. Complaints may also be submitted to the VA Office of Inspector General at va.gov/oig/hotline. For more information on other tips to avoid being scammed visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
Looking for Tickets?Wed, Sep 9, 2015
Fall is on its way, which means football season is here and unfortunately so are scalpers looking to take advantage of ticket buyers. Many Arkansans may be planning trips to check out their favorite team and watch the action in person. Some may choose to see the Razorbacks, the Red Wolves or any other team in college towns across the State over the next several months.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage Arkansans to be cautious when purchasing tickets. One of the most common online scams is selling tickets that do not exist. This practice is getting easier as online pay practices get simpler.
“Football season is in full swing across the Natural State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And that means that game tickets are a hot commodity. Consumers should be cautious when purchasing tickets from third parties to minimize the chance of purchasing fraudulent tickets.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for safe ticket purchases:
- Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
- A legitimate ticket broker will offer a refund policy. Only buy tickets from a reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction.
- Always use a credit card to place the purchase because a buyer has some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.
- Check the seats ahead of time. Ask for section, row and seat number to avoid obstructed views and purchasing tickets that do not exist.
- Stick with well-known ticket sellers who offer guarantees and policies that protect buyers and have the ability to investigate and restrict accounts of merchants who violate the policies.
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Refuse to be rushed. Scam artists often try to hurry prospective buyers into making a decision.
According to AARP, nearly 5 million consumers receive fraudulent concert, sporting event and theme park tickets each year.
Consumers who think they may have purchased a counterfeit ticket can contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers at 630-510-4594 or the Arkansas Attorney General’s Public Protection Department. For more information on other tips to avoid being scammed and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
Staying Safe on Social MediaWed, Sep 2, 2015
When used appropriately, social media sites are an enjoyable and effective way to keep in touch with friends and family. But there are potential dangers associated with these sites, including online predators. Social networking sites can provide a false sense of security for users who ignore the risks in making connections online.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to provide online safety tips to Arkansans to keep everyone and their personal information safe.
“Online social networking has become an everyday way of life,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “All Arkansans, but particularly teens, need to be made aware of the downfalls of social media. Parents and families must explain proper Internet habits and uses. This requires moms and dads, aunts and uncles and grandparents to get smart online.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for parents and families to keep their teens and children safe online:
- Keep tablets, laptops and cell phones in a shared area of the house with frequent foot traffic so that responsible household members can monitor times of use and materials viewed.
- Establish guidelines about the use of these devices, as well as an open dialogue on what is acceptable online behavior.
- Be aware of what Internet sites are frequented by children and teens. Blocking or screening services are available through Internet service providers or by purchasing software.
- Consider how different social networking sites operate before deciding if a child should join. Some sites allow only specific age groups or a defined community of users to access posted content, while others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
- Remind teens that once information is posted online, it cannot be removed. Even if information is deleted from a site, older versions can continue to exist on other sites. Helping to keep control over posted information by restricting access to a select group of people is advisable.
- Warn children to be wary of friends they know solely online and never give out their telephone number, home or school address or other personal information.
- Discuss the dangers of meeting new online friends in person, and encourage them to share with a trusted adult if an online friend’s behavior seems strange.
Social networking sites have exploded in popularity in the past decade. According to a Pew Research survey last month, Facebook reports that 72 percent of U.S. adults who are online are active users, meanwhile 23 percent are on Twitter, 28 percent are on Instagram and 18 percent are on Snapchat. Snapchat is reported to be the fastest growing social media platform especially among children, teens and young adults.
For more information on Internet and social media safety and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
Understanding AppsWed, Aug 26, 2015
Technology is constantly evolving and leading to new ways to make everyday tasks a little easier − from grocery shopping to mapping out directions and automatically paying the bills. According to Pew Research, nearly two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone. More people are browsing app stores to download games, utilities and other useful applications. While these apps have great uses, some do not protect personal information and some can even download viruses to your phone.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans on how to ensure personal information is protected and kept private from app companies and even scammers.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for smartphone users:
- Be aware that some free apps contain advertising within the app, offer “in-app” purchases or make a more advanced version of the app available for a cost.
- Consumers concerned about sharing location data with advertisers can turn off location services in phone settings.
- Keep apps up to date by installing new versions or upgrades when available because updates could contain security fixes.
- Parents should talk to children about rules for using apps and try the app before allowing children to access it.
Computer hackers have even created apps that can infect phones and mobile devices with malware. Malware is software, including spyware, viruses and phishing scams and can result in emails or texts being sent that were not actually written by the owner of the phone, or even make charges to accounts saved on the phone. If malware is found to be downloaded, contact the service provider, notify the company that made the device or install a security app to scan and remove malware apps.
For more information on protecting personal information and other Internet safety information, along with consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
Be Cautious with CreditWed, Aug 19, 2015
Young adults across Arkansas are determining the best course of action to manage upcoming expenses. One option many will consider is signing up for a credit card.
Credit cards serve a great purpose, but consumers need to remember that carrying balances on credit cards can be quite costly, especially if cardholders make only the minimum monthly payments because late charges and accrued interest continue to build on the unpaid balance.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to warn young consumers about the potential downfalls of entering the credit market.
“Buy now, pay later credit plans may seem like an easy way to cover expenses in the short term,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But these could lead to long-term problems if consumers take out cards with high interest rates or reach the credit limits. Consumers can establish a respectable credit history with credit cards by using them responsibly.”
Attorney General Rutledge offered the following tips to consider when signing up for a credit card:
- Though credit card offers may be appealing, avoid accepting too many offers. Having too much credit can lead to unmanageable debt.
- Choose a card based on the cost of credit, which includes the interest rate charged on credit balances and other fees.
- Submit payments on time. Consistently making timely payments is the only way to improve your credit ratings and qualify for less expensive credit.
- Pay the balance owed each month. Although it may seem easier to pay the minimum balance, doing so costs more in the long run, and it takes much longer to pay off the debt.
- Be aware of promotional or introductory interest rates. Many cards start out with low rates but eventually move up to higher rates. Make sure you know when the high rate begins.
- Steer clear of “over-the-limit” protection. It can be very expensive over time, especially on small transactions.
- Protect your credit score by refraining from “maxing out” a credit card.
- Read the fine print. Remember, a credit card application is a contract.
In 1999, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted legislation to restrict the practice of marketing credit cards on college campuses in order to combat high pressure solicitations that were targeting college students. A decade later, Congress took additional steps to limit solicitations. Some credit card companies are offering specific student credit cards that come with additional financial education and support for college students.
For more information on managing credit cards and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.