News/Events

Attorney General Alerts

Scammers Luring Seniors into Sharing Medicare Numbers

Scammers Luring Seniors into Sharing Medicare Numbers

Wed, Aug 28, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans eligible for Medicare and Medicaid should beware of scam artists attempting to steal their new individual Medicare card number. Thieves are actively targeting older Arkansans by spoofing their caller ID numbers—making the calls appear to be from a government agency—and luring seniors into sharing their Medicare card numbers.

“Medicare will never call asking for your Medicare card number because they already have it,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be with Medicare, hang up and call the phone number listed on your account statement.”

In 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid started issuing beneficiary cards with unique identifying numbers in place of the cardholders’ Social Security Number. The transition period to Medicare Beneficiary Identifier numbers for all participants is set to conclude by December 2019.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves.

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as a bank account, credit card or social security numbers unless the caller is trusted and his or her identity has been confirmed.
  • Be cautious of callers using organizational or familiar-sounding names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem that a call is from Washington, D.C., it could instead originate from anywhere in the world—even from scammers.
  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid and other government agencies have warned about these scams. If contacted, hang up and call the government agency directly at a trusted number.

If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don't share your personal details, then hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov/fraud.

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.

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Attorney General Alert: Automobile Dealers Mailing Bogus Lottery Games to Get Arkansans in the Door

Attorney General Alert: Automobile Dealers Mailing Bogus Lottery Games to Get Arkansans in the Door

Thu, Aug 22, 2019

Says, ‘these phony lottery scratch-off games are just a trick to try to sell cars’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is issuing a warning to consumers about mail-out automobile dealership promotions containing lottery-style game pieces that trick Arkansans into thinking they’ve won a high value prize. The mail-out promotions contain what appear to be lottery scratch-off tickets that indicate that the recipient is a winner of a prize, such as a television, a trip, a boat, cash, and other big prizes. These promotions entice recipients into a false belief that they have won the prize, as if the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery sold the actual scratch-off ticket. Upon arrival at the dealership to collect the prize, the consumer learns there is no prize and that it is just a ploy to try to sell a car.

“These promotions with phony lottery scratch-off games are just a trick to try to sell cars.” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I support and encourage a competitive business environment in Arkansas, but businesses must be fair and honest with consumers.”

The Attorney General’s Office has conducted an investigative review of these mail-outs and could find no evidence that anyone had ever actually received any of the high value prizes promised. Rather, consumers report that their names were placed in a drawing for another prize or that they received an item of nominal value, but all were subjected to a high-pressure sales pitch to buy a car. The Arkansas Prize Promotion Act prohibits sending a prize notice representing that a person is a winner when in fact it is only a promotional scheme designed to make contact with prospective customers.

On July 3, 2019, Attorney General Rutledge issued an Enforcement Advisory to Arkansas Automobile Dealers to immediately cease and desist from using bogus lottery-style games (e.g., scratch-off instant ticket, pull tabs, etc.), or any similar bogus devices, in advertisements or promotions to Arkansas consumers or face legal action for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Arkansas Prize Promotion Act. The ADTPA specifically prohibits the use of deception, fraud, or false pretenses in advertising, including the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact.

To ensure that dealers were aware of the enforcement advisory, it was issued in coordination with the Arkansas Motor Vehicles Commission and the Arkansas State Police Used Car Division – two agencies that license new and used automobile dealers in the state, as well as the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association and the Arkansas Independent Automobile Dealers Association. Rutledge also issued cease and desist directives to the marketing companies known to be involved in the production and distribution of these promotional materials mailed to Arkansas consumers on behalf of automobile dealerships.

Consumers who receive a promotion in the mail containing lottery-style games are encouraged to contact the Consumer Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or file a consumer complaint at www.ArkansasAG.gov

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Student Loans have Potential for Long-Term Financial Issues

Student Loans have Potential for Long-Term Financial Issues

Thu, Aug 15, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Starting school at a new college or university can be intimidating, especially when factoring in the immense expense and the potential need to take out student loans. There are some key items that every student should know before agreeing to a loan that often takes decades to repay.

“A student loan should be a short-time obligation to give students an opportunity to be successful,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Unfortunately, these loans are too often carried over for decades and hold our best and brightest back from making investments or taking risks as entrepreneurs.”

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips for students considering taking out a student loan:

For more information, the Arkansas Student Loan Authority can be contacted here or at 800-443-6030 or call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Phone Scams Stating Your Social Security Number Has Been Cancelled

Phone Scams Stating Your Social Security Number Has Been Cancelled

Wed, Jul 31, 2019

Says, ‘The Social Security Administration will never contact you by phone’

A new variation of social security fraud has invaded the State of Arkansas, threatening the livelihood of Arkansans. This phone scam is typically initiated by someone saying they work for the Social Security Administration and claiming that your social security number has been cancelled due to fraud or misuse. In response, Arkansans will often verify their social security number over the phone. Once the number is shared, the scam artist steals the victim’s identity and uses it for their own monetary gain and to wreck the credit of the victim.

“From Lake Village to Salem to Lewisville, I have met with Arkansans who have received calls from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration stating their number has been cancelled,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear: this is a scam to steal your identity to open up fraudulent credit cards — the Social Security Administration will never contact you by phone about your number.”

Social security fraud continues to be a big problem for Arkansans. The Attorney General’s office however, is taking back the fight. In March of this year, Attorney General Rutledge announced that Joseph Sensabaugh, from Conway, was ordered to pay more than $300,000 in restitution for the part he played in a social security scam. Likewise, Carl Smith, of Fort Smith, was ordered in June to pay $72,000 in restitution after being convicted on charges of social security fraud.

Attorney General Rutledge endorsed the following Federal Trade Commission tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government imposter:

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as a bank account, credit card or social security numbers unless the caller is trusted and his or her identity has been confirmed.
  • Be cautious of callers using organizational or familiar-sounding names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem that a call is from Washington, D.C., it could instead originate from anywhere in the world—even from scammers.
  • The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams. If contacted, hang up and call the government agency directly at a trusted number.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

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.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Children Innocently Using Dangerous Smartphone Apps

Children Innocently Using Dangerous Smartphone Apps

Wed, Jul 24, 2019

Says, ‘allowing dangerous people into your home and their bedrooms

When inexperienced children innocently use smartphone applications, they often do not realize predators are also lurking on sites looking to exploit their innocence. In today’s digital era, many teens and children feel pressured to post everything about themselves online. Due to this potential exposure, parents must play an active role in ensuring children stay safe on the internet.

“If you don’t know who your children are texting and gaming with on their phones, you could be allowing dangerous people into your home and their bedrooms,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge parents and grandparents to be informed and take an active role in their children’s online presence so together we can protect our kids. As long as bad people target the children of Arkansas, my office will be here to go after those people.”

Smartphone apps that allow messaging and video-chat between kids and anonymous or fake users pose the greatest threat. Apps like Yubo, known as “Tinder for teens,” allow users to chat and exchange information with people they may only know by a couple of unverified pictures. Recently, an Ohio man was arrested for the sexual exploitation of an 11-year old enabled by the app.

Chatous is another potentially harmful app commonly used that instantly connects users with random strangers all over the world for a one-on-one video-chat. The random nature of the app lends itself to the possibility of exploitation.

Attorney General Rutledge has issued the following tips to help protect Arkansas families:

  • Parents should make a unique password, or know the password for their child’s social media sites. Consider making the passwords stronger by adding numbers or special characters. Having strong, unique passwords for each site helps prevent hackers from taking over social media accounts to send spam, scam friends or use information against the owner of the account.
  • Follow the “Front Page Rule,” which reminds social media users not to put anything on a social media site they would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper.
  • Assume that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Even though a profile is deleted or information is removed on one site, older versions can continue to exist on other sites.
  • If your child would like to engage in face-to-face meetings with contacts found online, use caution as the other party may not be trustworthy and may not be who they say they are.
  • Do not respond to messages that are inappropriate. Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Always be aware of clues that a child is experiencing harmful or abusive content online. These include frequent seclusion, mood changes and lack of transparency, among others.
  • Parents and guardians should establish smartphone use policies for children and consider downloading a monitoring service app that allows them to view the child’s smartphone activity.

Recently the Department of Justice announced the arrest of 1,700 individuals in connection to online child exploitation. Parents should be aware of not just social media apps like Yubo or Chatous, but also apps like “calculator dot,” which allow children to hide pictures in secret files and to search the internet behind the facade of an innocent calculator.
For more information about ways to be safe online and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit
ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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Be Careful Posting Child Photos

Be Careful Posting Child Photos

Wed, Jul 10, 2019

Child predators see this time of year as an excellent opportunity to exploit pictures of children found on the internet. As the weather changes and the air gets warm, many families head out to enjoy the amenities that make the Natural State special. As families enjoy our state it is important to remember that sharing pictures and videos of family this summer while being seemingly innocent, can have unintended and harmful side effects.

It is common for ill-intending users of social media to search through popular hashtags such as #bathtime and #poolside to find pictures of children in order to sell or trade with others. It is important that parents be wary of posting content featuring children during activities such as swimming, sleepovers, lake days and tanning, among others.

“No Arkansans intend to subject their children to exploitation through the things they post online, but often predators will prowl social media sites in search of pictures featuring children in swimsuits, athletic gear or wearing other formfitting and revealing clothes,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is also a good idea to ask for consent from a child’s parent or guardian before including him/her in content with your child. Protection of our children is a community-wide responsibility.”

Attorney General Rutledge has issued the following tips to follow as you use social media this summer:

  • Think twice about posting pictures of children online, especially photos of children that show a lot of skin.
  • Remember that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Once the user posts, it is out of his/her control and you do not know where it will end up. Consider purchasing cell phone monitoring services from a provider to monitor children’s mobile devices.
  • Just as children are taught to use strong privacy settings, adults should use the strictest settings that are available to prevent unwanted individuals from seeing images of their children. For example, on Facebook, one of the available privacy settings requires explicit permission from the account holder before he or she can be tagged in a post or picture.
  • Monitor social media posts from friends to ensure they are not posting photos of loved ones that could be stolen by people with sinister motives and end up in the hands of a child predator. Many social media platforms allow users to submit complaints regarding problematic posts and to request deletion of posts.

Whether enjoying a swim in Lake Ft. Smith, a hike at Petit Jean or just an afternoon with kids at a fair, it is important to remember that the safety of our children is everyone’s responsibility. We help by doing our part to protect our future by protecting our children.

Arkansans can report child exploitation by calling the National CyberTipline, (800) 843-5678, or visit CyberTipline.com. To report child abuse, call the Arkansas State Police Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 482-5964, or, in the event of an emergency, dial 911 or a local law enforcement agency.

For more information about other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, 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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