News/Events

Attorney General Alerts

Buyers Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Buyers Beware of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

Wed, Jun 26, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – Flood waters across Arkansas and surrounding states have receded with damaged homes, businesses, and vehicles remaining, but the potential for further consumer harm still exist. Consumers should use caution if they are considering purchasing a vehicle in the coming months as bad actors may be interested in lining their own pockets by selling water-damaged vehicles without disclosing the hidden damage.

“Arkansas law has safeguards in place to protect consumers from unscrupulous individuals and car dealerships,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “However, many of these transactions happen as part of private sales.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans to consider before purchasing a new or used vehicle that could have been involved in flooding.

Consumers should review a vehicle’s title for any flood damage reports, especially if it was last titled outside the state. Arkansas law requires dealerships to place a separate disclosure in the window of cars for sale that have previously been submerged, but consumers should be careful if purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Although the private seller is required by Arkansas law to notify the buyer of any flood damage, a posted disclosure is not mandatory for this type of transaction.

Consumers who believe they have been sold a flood-damaged item that was not advertised as such should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

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.

MORE
Bad Actors Target Flood Victims

Bad Actors Target Flood Victims

Wed, Jun 19, 2019

Following the historic floods of the past few weeks, there is a lot of work to be done as Arkansans return home, but scam artists may be posing as contractors to steal quick cash from victims.

“Unscrupulous contractors may try to take advantage of hard-working Arkansans, especially during or after a disaster when people may seem vulnerable and in need,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans facing home repairs should research contractors and do their homework before making a payment and scheduling work to be done.”

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following tips for flood victims who are ready to begin repairs to their property:

  • 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.
  • Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a detailed written contract with name and address of the contractor as well as the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used.
  • Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure potential customers.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau or the Arkansas Contractors’ Licensing Board to find out if the company has a complaint history.
  • Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect and approve the work.
  • Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three (3) business days after the contract is signed.
  • Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program, and provides answers to specific questions regarding that program at FloodSmart.gov/faqs.

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.

MORE
Be on the Lookout for Price Gouging

Be on the Lookout for Price Gouging

Thu, Jun 13, 2019

Says, ‘will hold any business accountable that takes advantage of flood victims’

As Arkansans continue to recover from the recent historic flooding, some businesses may try to take advantage of consumers by raising prices beyond legal limits. Arkansas’s price-gouging law prohibits businesses from charging more than 10 percent above the pre-disaster price of goods or services.

“I will hold any business accountable that takes advantage of flood victims by illegally overcharging for needed supplies,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Businesses must follow the law and find a balance between supply and demand when pricing goods and services following a declared state of emergency.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to avoid price gouging:

  • Shop around before purchasing goods or services, especially for post-disaster home repairs.
  • Avoid “drive-by” quotes from door-to-door solicitors.
  • When possible, deal with established, reputable businesses in the community.
  • Always get estimates and price quotes in writing.

The price-gouging law is triggered whenever a state of emergency is declared by federal, State or local governments. The ban on price gouging remains in effect for at least 30 days on goods or services related to the emergency (e.g., medical supplies, storage services, motor fuel, etc.) and can be extended another 30 days by the local governing body, if needed. For home repair and cleanup services, the law remains in effect for 180 days. The scope of the law is broad and is intended to cover anything that may be needed in the event of a state of emergency.

While the law sets a general 10 percent cap on price increases during an emergency, businesses may lawfully charge a higher price if they can establish that the higher price is directly attributable to additional costs incurred by the retailer, by its supplier, or as the result of additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the goods or service. In such a limited situation, the business may charge no more than 10 percent above the total of the cost to the business, in addition to the markup which would customarily be applied by the business for the goods or service.

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.

MORE
Use Caution When Giving to Those Affected By the Flood

Use Caution When Giving to Those Affected By the Flood

Thu, Jun 6, 2019

The record-setting and devastating flooding in Arkansas means many people are looking for charities and organizations to assist those who are directly impacted by the widespread disaster. While there are many organizations collecting money and resources to help fellow Arkansans, there are also some bad actors who are lining their own pockets by posing as legitimate organizations or setting up crowdfunding sites claiming to be giving to those in need.

“It is despicable that some are preying on Arkansans in need and taking advantage of our kind-hearted,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office will investigate and go after those who choose to lie, cheat and steal.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tip for those considering helping their fellow Arkansans:

  • Do not fall prey to high-pressure sales tactics as they are often the first sign of an unscrupulous and fraudulent charity.
  • Before getting out a checkbook or credit card in response to a phone solicitation, make attempts to determine the validity of the organization by conducting research.
  • Watch out for similar but different organization names as some con artists will use names like those of existing, reputable nonprofits in order to trick consumers.
  • On crowdfunding sites, determine any relation the organizer has to the recipient and who is in control of the withdrawals.
  • Never send cash. Make check or credit card payments for increased security and for tax purposes.
  • If donating via text message, verify the organization’s number prior to sending information.

Also be wary of charities that pop up quickly in response to the recent flooding and other emergencies. Even if they are legitimate, they oftentimes do not have a system in place to get donations to those in need. Consider giving to an established organization which helps disaster victims in the area.

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.

MORE
Beware of Flood Insurance Scams

Beware of Flood Insurance Scams

Thu, May 30, 2019

As Arkansas experiences historic flooding and damage, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge warns Arkansans to beware of flood insurance scam artists who will look to steal your money in the midst of the chaos. As the most common natural disaster, flooding can strike at any time, and flood insurance is available to defray the costs of repair and property loss. Flood insurance, however, requires advance preparation and despite what scam artists may say, it cannot be purchased as a quick fix to ongoing flood disasters.

“My heart aches for the many who have and will suffer losses as the Arkansas River continues to rise to record levels this week,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Scam artists see disaster as an opportunity to steal from those in need. Remember, there are insurance options to help Arkansans navigate future threats of flooding disasters, but consumers should be mindful of the limitations and requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.”

Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers considering flood insurance as an option to protect their property:

  • Flood insurance policies are not instantly effective and generally require 30 days before they become effective;
  • Consult with an insurance agent to purchase a flood insurance policy, and beware of insurance agents that accept the filing of a claim before purchasing a policy;
  • Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not include flood insurance, and flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy;
  • Properties that have been flooded in the past may obtain flood insurance policies;
  • The price of flood insurance may vary based upon the risk of flooding at the property location.

Consumers who have additional questions about flood insurance should contact the Arkansas Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2007 or the Arkansas Insurance Department at (800) 282-9134 or (501) 371-2600.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program, and provides answers to specific questions at https://www.floodsmart.gov/faqs.

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.

MORE
The Vicious Trend of Vaping

The Vicious Trend of Vaping

Wed, May 22, 2019

The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, has become a dangerous trend in which too many Arkansas teens are participating. Eight years ago, just two percent of Arkansas teens vaped. Today, more than 20 percent of Arkansas teens vape. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling a vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term “vaping” is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol that actually consists of fine particles containing varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as seizures, respiratory and heart diseases.

“As adults, we need to be watchful of the young people around us and educate them about the dangers of vaping,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Manufacturers make these products to look flashy and appealing to teens. This is an extremely dangerous trend that is hitting Arkansas’s middle and high school students at alarming numbers.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to warn parents, teachers and children of the dangers of vaping e-cigarettes:

  • Review the ingredients carefully because many of them contain substances known to be carcinogenic, such as nicotine, vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol.
  • Consult your physician about the risks associated with vaping. One pod used in an e-cigarette can have the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes. Exposure to nicotine can alter the structure and function of developing children’s brains.
  • Remember that studies have shown that nicotine products are highly addictive and is associated with later onset of cigarette smoking habits.
  • Investigate the incidence of product failure as some e-cigarette device batteries have exploded or caught on fire, causing burns or even death.
  • Remember to keep e-cigarette supplies out of the reach of small children as some have become sick or died from swallowing the pleasant-smelling e-juice.
  • Be mindful that e-cigarette pods can be used for illegal purposes such as for odorless marijuana oils based upon online tutorials.

There are many different types of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, most of which contain pods of nicotine-filled e-liquid, sweet-smelling flavorings, and other potentially harmful chemicals. With sweet-smelling aromas and catchy flavor names like Strawberry Watermelon POP, Sunrise Pressed eJuice, Pink Lemonade Risky and Ice Cream, teens are experimenting with, and ultimately becoming addicted, to e-cigarettes. Once they get hooked, teens are often able to hide their addictions from parents, teachers and other adults by purchasing widely available vaping devices disguised as everyday items like pens or USB flash drives.

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.

MORE
Contact Us