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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: The Dangers of Unwashed Poppy Seeds

AG ALERT: The Dangers of Unwashed Poppy Seeds

Wed, May 2, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning consumers about a lethal opioid that may be lurking in their kitchen pantries – unwashed poppy seeds. After meeting with parents who lost a child to these seemingly innocent seeds, Attorney General Rutledge wants to ensure that all Arkansans are educated about the dangers. While washed poppy seeds are a safe and popular ingredient in everything from baked goods to salad dressings, some individuals are engaging in the dangerous behavior of making a “tea” with the unwashed seeds to settle their nerves or to get a high.

“The brewing and consumption of unwashed poppy seed tea is a dangerous trend with potentially lethal consequences,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unwashed poppy seeds are available from many online retailers and could be easily confused for the commonly-used washed variety. Arkansans should ensure that they are purchasing and using the correct variety of poppy seeds since the unwashed seeds can be dangerous, addictive and even lethal.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers shopping online who may have purchased unwashed poppy seeds instead of washed by mistake.

  • Thoroughly review the order to ensure you are ordering the product(s) you searched for.
  • Carefully research the product by reading manufacturer information, consumer reviews and other literature to determine whether the seeds are washed or unwashed.
  • Read and understand the refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase. Look closely at disclosures about the seller’s refund and shipping policies.
  • If possible, use credit cards for payment. Credit card purchases are the most secure and easiest to return. And under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you do not get what you were promised.

Arkansas consumers should also be aware of the overdose risks that may come with unwashed poppy seeds. Recent research found that the unwashed seeds can have an opium latex on them that is activated during the tea brewing process. Morphine levels vary widely among unwashed seeds, ranging from trace to lethal amounts, and consumers should be cautious and thoroughly research the products they are purchasing.

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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AG Alert: Statewide Prescription Drug Take Back is April 28

AG Alert: Statewide Prescription Drug Take Back is April 28

Wed, Apr 25, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – As the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc across the state, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging all Arkansans to participate in the statewide Prescription Drug Take Back this Saturday, April 28. In the face of an epidemic that claimed 401 Arkansans in 2016, it is more critical than ever to clean out medicine cabinets and ensure that unused, expired and unwanted prescriptions remain out of the hands of children and those with addiction.

“The number of Arkansans impacted by the opioid epidemic is staggering and we all must work together to end opioid abuse and misuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have unknowingly become drug dealers to their family members. By cleaning out our medicine cabinets and properly disposing of expired and unused prescription medication, whether at the Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back on April 28 or one of my office’s take back events, we can save lives.”

Attorney General Rutledge is reminding all Arkansans about the national Prescription Drug Take Back Event and the many drop-off locations available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. Medications may be returned in the original bottle or in any other container for increased privacy.

Rutledge released the following list of medications that will be accepted at these events across the State:

· Opioids, such as OxyContin, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, etc.

· Stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, etc.

· Depressants, such as Ativan, Xanax, Valium, etc.

· Other prescription medications

· Over-the-counter medicines

· Vitamins

· Pet medicines

· Medicated ointments and lotions

· Inhalers

· Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)

· Medicine samples

According to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and Medical Examiner’s Office, 401 Arkansans died from drug overdoses in 2016. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.

Take backs are also important in protecting the environment and home. Many medications are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems, meaning that medicines flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting waters and contaminating food and water supplies. Turning over these medications at 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.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Days are held twice a year, but to find event sites and year-round drop-off locations near you, visit the updated ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s Office also partners with local law enforcement to host take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since 2016, 570.8 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected and safely disposed of at Attorney General’s Office mobile offices – keeping them out of the hands of children and those with addictions.

Rutledge is partnering on the Prescription Drug Take Back with the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.

Prescription Drug Take Back days are just one step in Rutledge’s multi-faced approach to ending the opioid crisis. Rutledge is also suing the opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. Last fall Rutledge launched Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation educational tool offered at no cost to all high school students in the State to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. To date, it has been launched in 57 schools across 50 counties and reached over 6,000 students with an additional 24 schools committed to launch the program this fall. Each year, Rutledge partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators.

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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AG Alert: Storm Victims Seek Repairs

AG Alert: Storm Victims Seek Repairs

Wed, Apr 18, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Con artists are trying to take advantage of Arkansans who suffered property damage from the eleven tornados that touched down across our state last Friday, April 13. Damage is strung from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the Natural State, leaving countless storm victims vulnerable to scams as they assess the damage and seek repairs this week.

“Home repair scams are common following severe weather and place additional strain on hard working Arkansans when repairs aren’t completed as promised,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These bad actors prey on victims of severe weather and take advantage of the unexpected and urgent nature of storm damage repairs. I urge all Arkansans to stay alert and use caution as they begin the clean-up process.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure they hire a reputable contractor to complete the repairs:

  • Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
  • Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.
  • Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
  • Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
  • Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
  • Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect the work.
  • Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
  • Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

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: Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 8-14

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 8-14

Wed, Apr 11, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – April 8-14 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to raise awareness about financial compensation for victims who have suffered personal injury or death as the result of violent crime. Victims of crime may receive financial assistance to cover the medical and funeral expenses incurred by the victim or the victim’s family. Communities across the country, including here in Arkansas are hosting events this week to honor crime victims and recognize those who advocate on their behalf.

“I say thank you to the countless members of the law enforcement community and to the advocates in our State who provide a lifeline of hope and support to victims and their families,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how tragedies can impact families across Arkansas. I will continue to work hard to promote safer communities while also honoring the advocates who work each day with victims and survivors.”

This year’s theme for National Crime Victim’s Rights Week is “Expand the Circle Reach All Victims.”

Attorney General Rutledge is participating in an event this week to also proclaim this week as Arkansas Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program, administered by the Office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on behalf of the Crime Victims Reparations Board, provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or death as the result of violent crime.

Additionally, the Sexual Assault Reimbursement Program allows evidence to be collected after a sexual assault has been committed without the victim bearing the burden of the expense, and it pays for ambulance services and medical or legal examinations.

Victims may apply for compensation by submitting an application to the Attorney General’s office. Applications are available at ArkansasAG.gov or from Arkansas’s 28 elected prosecuting attorneys.

In 2016, Rutledge unveiled Laura’s Card and has since distributed over 75,000 cards across Arkansas. Laura’s Card is a resource to assist and empower victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to provide resources to people in abusive situations. The card can also be downloaded in English and Spanish at LaurasCard.ar.gov.

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AG ALERT: Springtime Scams Hit the Streets

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Springtime Scams Hit the Streets

Wed, Apr 4, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are taking to the streets to con homeowners, convincing unknowing and trusting Arkansans to make costly repairs that are not needed. Worse, these criminals may demand payment up front for promised work that they have no intention of completing.

“Many hard working Arkansans look to make pricey updates and repairs to their homes during the spring season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But con artists are taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and looking to scam homeowners this time of year. Consumers should do their due diligence in hiring contractors and researching companies to ensure they are reputable.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips homeowners should consider before hiring a contractor:

  • Think twice before hiring out-of-town or unknown contractors, especially those soliciting door-to-door.
  • Question contractors who use terms like “special introductory offer,” “limited-time offer” or those who offer discounts to use your house as a “model home.”
  • Do not fall for high-pressure tactics from contractors who want to discuss the price of the job later.
  • Beware of those demanding payment in full before work is finished.

Arkansans should also insist on a written contract or agreement that includes the name, address and telephone number of the contractor and consider a payment plan that pays for a third of the work up front, a third to be paid while work is being done and the final third upon completion.

Consumers should also know that the Arkansas Home Solicitation Sales Act allows consumers to cancel any home-solicitation sale made within three days of purchase of the item or service.

Any contractor building, repairing or doing improvements to a home costing more than $2,000 is required to be licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. Contact the board at ACLB.Arkansas.gov or (501) 372-4661 to verify a contractor’s license, the date it was issued and whether any complaints have been filed against that contractor. Ask for recommendations from people you trust.

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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Hackers Target Social Media ‘Friends’

AG ALERT: Hackers Target Social Media ‘Friends’

Wed, Mar 28, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Hackers are attempting to infiltrate social media accounts in order to target friends of account holders by posing as the person and pushing programs that allege to provide financial assistance. The hackers prey upon trusting relationships between friends and family by claiming that completion of a simple application will allow them to help with a variety of expenses, ranging from paying bills to starting a new business.

“In their latest criminal ploy, hackers try to exploit trusted relationships between friends and families to scam innocent Arkansans out of thousands of dollars,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “While social media users should only connect with individuals they actually know, criminals will not hesitate to hack accounts and pose as trusted friends to push their scams. Arkansans must remain vigilant and avoid giving out any personal information online or over the phone – if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help Arkansans keep their personal information secure on social media:

  • Use a unique password for each social media site you use. If an unauthorized individual accesses your account, they can use it to send spam to other users, scam your friends and family or use the information they obtain to scam you.
  • Be sure to set privacy settings to the most secure setting available. Ensure that information is only shared with friends, not with the internet at large. Some social media sites, like Facebook, allow users to see how their profile looks to specific individuals and the public.
  • If you receive a friend or follow request from an individual who you think you are already connected with, double-check your friends or followers list. If you are already connected with that individual, the new request is probably a hacker. When in doubt, reach out directly to the individual to verify the request.
  • If your profile is publicly viewable, do not post information that would let someone know that your house was empty or that you are home alone. Posting that you are leaving town for a few days could be an invitation for someone to break into your home. Likewise, if you have children or roommates who use these sites, make sure they are aware that they should never indicate online that they are home alone.
  • Think carefully about what information you post online. An electronic record of what you say will likely be online forever, which might come back to haunt you in the future. Follow the “Front Page Rule.” Do not post anything online that you would not be comfortable seeing on the front page of your newspaper. Remember that employers, universities and even attorneys often check other social media sites for information that you have posted online.

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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