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Attorney General Alerts

Be a Smart Consumer in 2019

Be a Smart Consumer in 2019

Wed, Jan 2, 2019

Many Arkansans are setting their new year’s resolutions for 2019, but scam artists also see the new year as an opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting Arkansans. In the new year, scammers will continue to pose as someone they are not and try to steal personal and financial information, convince Arkansans they won a prize in exchange for a fee, trick consumers into believing they have debt that must be paid by gift cards, and many more variations on common scams.

“Arkansans must remain vigilant to keep their private information out of the hands of thieves,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Bad actors will continue to do bad deeds, but there are steps Arkansans can take to protect themselves and spot a potential scam before being victimized.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to spot a scam:

  • Don’t answer a call from an unknown number.
  • Wiring money is like giving cash away. There is no protection for consumers if the recipient is not who he or she claimed to be.
  • Never give out personal or banking information in response to a phone, email or mail inquiry. Contact the entity requesting the information directly through a different method to verify that it is a reputable company and to confirm the request.
  • When purchasing items or services online, make sure to research the seller and know his or her physical location.
  • If making a charitable contribution, give to an organization that has a strong history in providing relief. Instead of paying in cash, make a check or money order payable to the organization, not an individual.
  • Most importantly, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Investigate the offer before accepting or paying any money.

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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Gift Return Problems Can Put a Chill on the Holidays

Gift Return Problems Can Put a Chill on the Holidays

Wed, Dec 26, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Returning or exchanging gifts received during the holidays can be stressful and difficult if consumers do not educate themselves on company return policies before making purchases.

“An unknown and complicated return policy can spoil some of the holiday fun and hurt your pocketbook,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans should learn return policies prior to attempting returns. Some retailers generously allow shoppers to make returns for any reason, which can lead consumers to wrongly believe they are entitled, by law, to a full refund or credit, but that is not always the case.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for gift recipients needing to make a return or exchange this holiday season:

· Ask the merchant about the store’s return or exchange policy.

· Keep all gift and purchase receipts.

· If considering returning, do not open the box or remove the tags.

· Some online retailers allow purchases to be returned in-store, while others require the item to be shipped back. Check with the merchant ahead of time.

As a gesture of goodwill, most companies offer in-store exchanges if the customer has the receipt and the item is promptly returned. However, others have an “all sales are final” policy for deeply discounted or clearance items and do not allow returns or exchanges. Return policies not only differ from store to store but can also differ for items purchased in-store and items bought online or by mail order.

Some retailers that allow returns may charge restocking fees for certain products. Consumers can sometimes pay a fee of 10 to 25 percent of the price of the item if the package is not in the condition in which it was purchased. Meanwhile, items like computer software, CDs, DVDs and Blue-Ray discs are not generally returnable after the seal has been broken.

Retailers are not required to accept at-will returns, and even in the case of a defective product, consumers may be required to contact the manufacturer. Sometimes retailers will require consumers to deal with the product manufacturer directly, rather than simply returning the item to the place of purchase.

The National Retail Federation estimates holiday spending to increase at least 4.3 percent to $720.89 billion this year.

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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Arkansans Should Report Threatening Emails Demanding Bitcoin Ransom

Arkansans Should Report Threatening Emails Demanding Bitcoin Ransom

Wed, Dec 19, 2018
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Mystery Shopper Scam Can Steal Money

Mystery Shopper Scam Can Steal Money

Wed, Dec 12, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – During the holiday season, scammers are targeting Arkansans who may be looking to make some extra money. These con artists often use the so-called mystery shopper scam to take Arkansans’ hard-earned money, with the promise of getting more in return.

“Mystery shopping is a legitimate opportunity that retailers use to evaluate their services,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Although this scam has different variations, becoming a mystery shopper does not cost anything upfront, and retailers will not contact potential mystery shoppers on an unsolicited basis. Arkansans should be wary of any organization asking for money prior to making mystery shopper work assignments and should ignore mystery shopper checks and instructions asking the consumer to deposit the money, purchase gift cards, and then send all or a portion to a third party.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following list from the Federal Trade Commission of red flags that a mystery shopping opportunity may not be legitimate:

  • The opportunity is advertised in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.
  • The business requires “certification” to be purchased ahead of time.
  • A mystery shopper job is guaranteed.
  • A website charges a fee to access mystery shopping opportunities.
  • A directory of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for purchase.
  • The seller asks to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money to a third party.

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association offers a database search of mystery shopper assignments and how to apply for them. The organization offers certification programs for a fee, but the certification is not needed to look or apply for assignments in the database.

Arkansans should avoid wiring money to strangers or anyone outside the country and should never send prepaid gift cards or give the serial number of a loaded gift card based on any unsolicited phone call.

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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Data Breaches Put Arkansans at Risk

Data Breaches Put Arkansans at Risk

Wed, Dec 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Marriott and the United States Postal Service are just two of the recent companies that have announced data breaches, putting private consumer information at risk. The Attorney General’s Office has received a number of calls from concerned Arkansans, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge encourages Arkansans who feel their information may have been compromised to contact the office at ArkansasAG.gov.

“Arkansans’ identities have been put at risk due to these data breaches,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge anyone with questions, or anyone who has been notified that your information was compromised, to please contact my office because I am here to do the fighting for you.”

Identity theft becomes a major concern following data breaches whether consumers utilize computers directly or not. Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized individual uses another person’s information to commit fraud or other crimes, most commonly to obtain access to credit in the victim’s name. If successful, scammers can severely damage the victim’s credit and steal his or her hard-earned money.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help Arkansans recognize when they might be a victim of identity theft:

  • Receiving unexpected bills or collection calls. Getting an account statement for an unauthorized account is an indication that an individual may be the victim of identity theft. Likewise, getting collection calls from a creditor or debt collector regarding an unauthorized account is an indication of potential identity theft.
  • Not receiving expected bills or account statements. If a monthly credit card statement stops, this could be an indication that someone has stolen mail or changed an account statement mailing address. Promptly report this to the account provider.
  • Having a credit application denied when there is no reason to believe there is a problem with the credit history. Be sure to periodically review the credit report, and always review it again before making an application for credit on a big purchase.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, close accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently opened, and file a complaint with the FTC. The Attorney General’s office also offers an ID Theft Passport to help victims reestablish their good name, which requires that consumers first file a police report for financial identity theft.

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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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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