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Attorney General Alerts

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Get the Facts Straight Before You Vape

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Get the Facts Straight Before You Vape

Thu, Oct 3, 2019

Says, ‘Just because the vaping industry says vapes are safer than cigarettes does not mean they are safe’

LITTLE ROCK – There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes and vapes, but you should get the facts straight before you vape. Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term “vaping” is used because e-cigarettes do not produce smoke as traditional cigarettes do, but rather an aerosol that consists of fine particles potentially containing varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as seizures, respiratory and heart diseases.

“In recent months, the rampant use of e-cigarettes among teens and preteens has hit a fever pitch with too many young people identified by medical experts as being harmed by inhaling these powerful chemicals,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Just because the vaping industry says vapes are safer than cigarettes does not mean they are safe. Through education, enforcement and consumer protection, we can help protect an entire generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.”

E-cigarettes are marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes, but in reality they are not. Attorney General Rutledge has released the following facts about vaping to help parents protect their children.

  • Many e-liquids used in vapes are as strong or stronger than cigarettes and can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
  • Vapes can be easily disguised in clothing pockets, backpacks and purses; they can look like a USB drive or pen and some are even covered with cartoon character designs.
  • Arkansas teenagers and children are twice as likely to start using e-cigarettes and vapes as compared to adults.
  • Vape pods and e-liquids are sold in many different flavors including fruit, cinnamon, candy and crème.
  • The average age of first time Arkansas users is 14 years old.
  • In Arkansas, it is illegal to buy nicotine products, including vapes, online or through the mail.

Attorney General Rutledge will be hosting Youth Vaping Summits at Arkansas Children’s, Children’s Hall on October 7th starting at 9 a.m. and at Bentonville High School on October 9th starting at 2 p.m. The Summit will include discussions and panels from health care professionals, educators, law enforcement, concerned parents and representatives from the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

For more information or to attend one of the Youth Vaping Summits, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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Make Sure Your Personal Information Stays Personal

Make Sure Your Personal Information Stays Personal

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

Says, ‘scam artists are skilled at adapting quickly to using new practices to steal your personal identity’

LITTLE ROCK - Identity thieves continue to adapt their scam techniques to fill their pockets with the money of hardworking Arkansans. These criminals know that any personal information they are able to gather, the better, and they will resort to any means necessary to steal your information. They often do this by calling consumers while pretending to be a legitimate business.

“Unfortunately, scam artists are skilled at adapting quickly to using new practices to steal your personal identity,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If you have any doubt, hang up the phone and find the company’s official phone number from a trusted source to verify the phone call.”

Attorney General Rutledge has compiled a list of precautionary tips to protect yourself:

  • NEVER give away your personal information over the phone. Legitimate companies will have processes in place to protect personal information and will not request it by telephone.
  • DO NOT trust the source even if it has some of your personal information. Scammers often use partial pieces of personal information in order to verify current personal information or gain personal information.
  • NEVER verify your personal or banking If you verify your personal information to a scam artist, it can lead to identity theft.
  • BE MINDFUL of scammers who spoof the caller I.D. The caller may appear to be from a trusted source and in reality, is a scam artist.

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. For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or ArkansasAG.gov.

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16 Apps Parents Should Know About

16 Apps Parents Should Know About

Thu, Sep 12, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas parents across the State want what is best for their children. So many Arkansans benefit from technology, but at the Attorney General’s Office, we routinely hear about preteens and teenagers who are bullied or have started relationships with strangers online.

“Keeping Arkansas kids safe is a top priority,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Being informed, opening every app on your child’s phone and knowing who they are talking to are some of the best ways we can protect our kids from predators and online bullying.”

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is alerting parents to 16 smartphone apps that may make children vulnerable to dangers online:

  • Bumble – Bumble is a popular dating app that requires women to make the first contact. It is common for minors to use this app and falsify their age.
  • Calculator% – Calculator% is one of several "vault" style apps that appears to be a harmless app, but is used to hide photos, videos, files and even browser history.
  • Chatous – Chatous is a messaging app that allows users to chat and share images. This app makes it easy for predators to engage in age-inappropriate conversations with potential victims.
  • Discord – Discord is a voice and text chat tool that allows gamers to communicate in real time. Users can chat, add friends one-on-one or in larger groups. This app discusses content geared towards adults, but allows users as young as 13.
  • Grindr – Grindr is a dating app for LGBT adults, not children. The app gives users options to chat, share photos and meet with people based on a smartphone's GPS location.
  • House Party – House Party is a group video chat app that allows users to communicate via live video chats and texts. There is no screening and the video is live. Users can also communicate with people they don't know.
  • Live.Me – Live.Me allows users to livestream videos using geo-location to share the videos so other users can find the broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn "coins" to "pay" minors for photos.
  • Monkey – Monkey is an app that allows users as young as 12 to chat with people all over the world during a brief introductory call, then users are given the chance to add each other on Snapchat.
  • TikTok – TikTok is a popular app among kids that is used to create and share short videos with limited privacy controls. Users are vulnerable to explicit content and cyberbullying.
  • Tinder – Tinder is a dating app that allows users to "swipe right" to like someone and "swipe left" to pass. Users can falsify their age, share photos, messages, and meet.
  • Tumblr – Tumblr is a blogging app and website that allows users as young as 13 to create an account. There are very few privacy settings and pornography is easy to find. Most posts are public and can't be made private. This app was removed from the Apple App Store in '18.
  • Snapchat – Snapchat is a photo & video sharing app that promises users their photo or video will disappear even though it doesn't. Snapchat stories allow users to view content for up to 24 hours and share their location.
  • WhatsApp – WhatsApp is a popular messaging app allowing users to text, send photos, make calls and leave voicemails worldwide.
  • Whisper – Whisper is a social network that allows users to share secrets anonymously and it reveals the users’ location so strangers can meet.
  • Yubo – Yubo is a social media app that allows users as young as 13 to create a profile, share their location, view other users’ profiles in their area and view livestreams. Substance use, profanity, racial slurs and scantily clad people are common.
  • YouTube – YouTube is a video sharing app that may not be age appropriate for kids. Inappropriate content can be found using innocent search terms, but with parental controls this can be avoided.

For more information on smartphone, apps and internet safety, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Fumble When Buying Tickets

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Fumble When Buying Tickets

Fri, Sep 6, 2019

LITTLE ROCK - When Arkansans decide to take in a live football game at any of our great in-state institutions this fall, it is important they don’t fumble when buying tickets. Oftentimes scam artists will try to take advantage of fans by selling them tickets that are fake, duplicates or don’t actually exist at all. They may use high-pressure-sales tactics to rush innocent Arkansans into buying tickets using deals that seem unbelievable and many times are. The stadium should be a safe haven for diehard fans rather than for scammers.

“Football in Arkansas is a cherished tradition and it is worth protecting,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Whether you support the Razorbacks, Red Wolves, Bears or Boll Weevils, everyone deserves to cheer for their favorite team without worry of scammers trying to take advantage of their wallets.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following tips to help Arkansans protect themselves when looking to buy game tickets during the upcoming football season.

  • Research the seller or broker with the Better Business Bureau and ensure it is 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 make a ticket purchase because credit card laws provide buyers with some recourse if the tickets are fraudulent.
  • Check the seats ahead of time. Ask for section, row and seat numbers 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. We can all do our part by ensuring our neighbors, friends, and families are educated on the deceptive practices of scammers and ways to avoid them.

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.

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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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