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Attorney General Alerts

Social Security Scam Demands Arkansans' Information for Continued Payments

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Social Security Scam Demands Arkansans' Information for Continued Payments

Fri, Apr 3, 2020

Says, ‘The Social Security Administration will not suspend or discontinue your payments due to COVID-19’

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists thrive on fear, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed their illegal schemes. They are now using today’s financial uncertainty to trick Social Security beneficiaries into thinking their payments will be suspended unless they provide personal information to the scammer by phone, email or text. The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has confirmed, however, that beneficiaries will continue to receive scheduled payments during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any letters, texts, emails or phone calls stating otherwise are a scam.

“The Social Security Administration will not suspend or discontinue your payments due to COVID-19,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge anyone who receives a scam request for your personal bank account information to hang up the phone immediately.”

Scam artists have sent letters to Social Security beneficiaries by U.S. Mail and stated that benefit payments will be canceled unless he or she contacts the phone number identified in the letter. Some of these letters may even include a reference number in order to suggest that the letter is legitimate. Upon calling the phone number provided, beneficiaries are asked to give personal information or to make a payment with gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency or by mailing cash to ensure social security payments.

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to protect Arkansans from con artists:

  • Government benefits do not require up-front payment of money, and requests for payment by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, cash, or debit or credit cards are scams.
  • Rely on information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Examples include the Social Security Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Arkansas Department of Health;
  • Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, Social Security number or banking information;
  • Check the URL link for a "lock" icon before you proceed to make sure that the website is a secure site.
  • Look for non-personalized email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam,” and delete emails that insist you act urgently or immediately.
  • Consider contacting a friend, loved one, or financial professional before providing information or agreeing to any proposal from a possible governmental entity.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Attorney General’s Office created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19 at ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19. Contact the office with any concerns about scams at (800) 482-8982.

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Don’t Get Conned During Tornado Clean-Up

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Get Conned During Tornado Clean-Up

Tue, Mar 31, 2020

Says, ‘to stay alert and use caution as they begin the clean-up process’

JONESBORO – Northeast Arkansas is now in the clean-up phase after a tornado devastated the area. While many Arkansans may want to help their neighbors clean up and rebuild, con artists will seize the opportunity to take advantage of this vulnerable moment.

“Home repair scams are common following severe weather and in these already difficult times can place additional strain on Arkansans when repairs aren’t completed as promised,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge all Arkansans to stay alert and use caution as they begin the clean-up process.”

Due to Governor Hutchinson’s disaster declaration on March 28, 2020, the Arkansas price gouging law is in effect for the Jonesboro area for 30 days for any materials necessary to recover from this disaster. The new ban on price gouging is in addition to the ban related to the COVID-19 public health emergency that is ongoing. Goods cannot be up-charged 10 percent more than they were did before the emergency declaration. If they are, businesses and individuals can face criminal charges and fines up to $10,000 per item. Consumers should report suspected price gouging to the Attorney General’s Office at ArkansasAG.gov/covid19.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure Arkansans hire a reputable contractor to complete home 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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Scammers Create Frenzy with Fake Government Checks
CDC and Other Health Officials are not Going Door-to-Door Performing Tests

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CDC and Other Health Officials are not Going Door-to-Door Performing Tests

Fri, Mar 20, 2020

LITTLE ROCK - While Arkansans are staying home in an attempt to prevent infection and spread of the COVID-19 virus, con artists are out and about going door-to-door targeting frightened senior citizens. Posing as employees of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these scammers knock on your door and offer to scan you for the COVID-19 virus at a cost of $50. These con artists, who are not licensed medical professionals, swab your nasal cavity and pretend to perform a medical test while you watch. To obtain your “test results,” the scammers ask for your banking information, including credit and debit card numbers, and social security number.

“It is unbelievable that con artists use the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to target Arkansans, especially senior citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The CDC and other health officials are not going door-to-door and performing tests. Arkansans should consult their trusted health care provider or the Arkansas Department of Health regarding COVID-19 testing.”

The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the CDC is not going door-to-door for testing. Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating that they are there to test them for the COVID-19 virus should immediately call local law enforcement and file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Websites Created to Take Advantage of Arkansans

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Websites Created to Take Advantage of Arkansans

Thu, Mar 19, 2020

Says, ‘must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information’

LITTLE ROCK - While taking extra precautions to prevent infection and the spread of the COVID-19 virus, don’t forget to be safe online. Con artists have been creating thousands of websites daily, knowing that Americans are turning to the internet for news and information about this pandemic; making it a ripe place to infect your device, steal your information and spread malware.

“Arkansans must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information from reliable sources,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Cyber criminals are spending time creating fake websites, emails and ads that look like they are from legitimate sources to take your money.”

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to protect Arkansans from con artists:

  • Get information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health.
  • Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, social security number or banking information.
  • Check the URL link for a "lock" icon before you proceed.
  • Look for generic email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam” and delete emails that insist you act now.

The Attorney General’s Office has created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19 at ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19. Contact the office with any questions or concerns at (800) 482-8982.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Coronavirus Misinformation Spreading Faster than Illness

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Coronavirus Misinformation Spreading Faster than Illness

Wed, Mar 4, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Recent ads on social media are fueling fear surrounding the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Awareness of this virus, and any other contagious illness such as the flu, is imperative to helping slow down and stop the spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Basic hygiene, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, is more effective at preventing the virus than using facemasks. Some alarming ads on social media are giving false information on prevention and illegitimate cures.

“It is important to remain vigilant when avoiding any contagious illness, but some misinformation surrounding Coronavirus is causing undue panic and fraudsters are taking advantage of that fear,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “Like any scam, don’t buy into this hysteria and get your facts from the experts.”

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has activated an incident command center that has the authority to conduct testing and issue quarantine orders as necessary. The ADH updates information regarding tests performed and any positive cases in Arkansas on its website healthy.arkansas.gov.

Under President Trump, the U.S. Government is using its full resources to protect the health and safety of all Americans. Proactive measures have been taken such as travel restrictions, early containment strategies and the creation of the Coronavirus Task Force.

Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General encouraged people to stop buying masks because they do not prevent the general public from catching the virus. However, the absence of masks could keep healthcare workers, who are in contact with numerous viral infections, from getting the protection they need.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus, visit the CDC’s website at CDC.gov/COVID19.

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