Rutledge Makes First Visit to Morgan Nick FoundationThu, May 21, 2015
ALMA – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today made her first visit to the Morgan Nick Foundation headquarters in Alma. During her stop, Rutledge toured the facility and met with Colleen Nick, Morgan’s mother, founder of the foundation and board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“Monday is National Missing Children’s Day, and I want to assure Colleen, as well as all other families across Arkansas who have missing loved ones, that they are not forgotten,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Monday will not only be a time for us to remember those who are missing but also recommit ourselves to doing everything possible to locate them.”
“Standing shoulder to shoulder in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office and the amazing people of Arkansas, we are continuing to fight together in hope for Morgan and every person who is missing,” said Colleen Nick.
Rutledge and Nick encourage families and loved ones of missing persons to attend the Attorney General’s Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event on June 10 and bring with them as much information as possible about their missing loved ones, such as police reports, photographs and dental records. Forensic analysts will be at the event to take DNA samples.
Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action, an all-day event, will take place at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. It will include a law enforcement training session during the morning, a luncheon hosted by Rutledge, and an afternoon information session that will allow for DNA collection for families of the missing. Representatives from the Morgan Nick Foundation, State Crime Lab, State Police Criminal Investigations Division, FBI and National Unidentified and Missing Persons System will be available to assist families as part of the missing persons initiative. Every service offered at the event is free of charge.
Register for the event at ArkansasAG.gov/our-office/sponsored-events/.
On the evening of June 9, 1995, Morgan Nick was kidnapped while playing with friends during a little league game in Alma. A massive investigation ensued and continues, but Morgan remains missing. The foundation believes that to reduce the number of child abductions in the future, we must educate our children and empower them with the skills necessary to protect them from the possible dangers of abduction.
Rutledge Announces $6 Million Multi-State Settlement with Credit Reporting AgenciesThu, May 21, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, with 30 other state attorneys general, have announced a major settlement with three national credit reporting agencies – Equifax Information Systems LLC, Experian Information Solutions Inc. and TransUnion LLC. The settlement is a result of a multistate investigation initiated in 2012 by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Under the terms of the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to pay the participating states a total $6 million, of which Arkansas will receive $113,876.33, and make a number of changes to their business practices to benefit consumers.
The investigation that began in 2012 focused on consumer disputes about credit report errors, monitoring and disciplining data furnishers (providers of credit reporting information), accuracy in consumer credit reports and the marketing of credit monitoring products to consumers who call the credit reporting agencies to dispute information on their credit report.
“Arkansas consumers should be able to trust that they will receive a fair and accurate representation of their credit from any reporting agency,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These three agencies broke that trust and are being held accountable for their actions. This settlement will ensure proper safeguards are in place so that consumers are not provided with errors and misinformation about their credit.”
A violation of the settlement by any of the credit reporting agencies may be enforced by the states, according to individual state laws.
Under the settlement, the credit reporting agencies have agreed to increase monitoring of data furnishers, to require additional information from furnishers of certain types of data, to limit direct-to-consumer marketing, to provide greater protections for consumers who dispute information on their credit reports, to limit certain information that can be added to a credit report, to provide additional consumer education, and to comply with state and federal laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The following are key provisions of the settlement.
Higher standards for data furnishers:
- The credit reporting agencies must maintain information about problem data furnishers and provide a list of those furnishers to the states upon request.
- The credit reporting agencies and data furnishers must use a better, more detailed system to share data.
Limits to direct-to-consumer marketing:
- The credit reporting agencies cannot market credit monitoring services to a consumer during a dispute phone call until the dispute portion of the call has ended.
- The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers that purchasing a product is not a requirement for disputing information on their credit reports.
Added protections for consumers who dispute credit reporting information:
- The credit reporting agencies must implement an escalation process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or mixed files — where one consumer’s information is mixed with another’s.
- Each credit reporting agency must notify the other agencies if it finds that one consumer’s information has been mixed with another consumer.
- The credit reporting agencies must send a consumer’s supporting documents to the data furnisher.
- Consumers may obtain one additional free credit report in a 12-month period if they dispute information on their credit report and a change is made as a result of the dispute.
Limits to certain information that can be added to a consumer’s credit report:
- The credit reporting agencies are generally prohibited from adding information about fines and tickets to credit reports.
- The credit reporting agencies cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency, which gives consumers time to work out issues with their insurance companies.
- The credit reporting agencies must require debt collectors to provide the original creditor’s name and information about the debt before the debt information can be added to a credit report.
Additional consumer education:
- The credit reporting agencies must tell consumers how they can further dispute the outcome of an investigation, such as by filing a complaint with other agencies.
- Each credit reporting agency must provide a link to its online dispute website on annualcreditreport.com, and the credit reporting agency’s dispute website must be free of ads and any marketing offers.
The changes required under the settlement will be implemented in three phases to allow the credit reporting agencies to update their IT systems and procedures with data furnishers. All changes must be completed by three years and 90 days following the settlement’s effective date.
Participating in the settlement are the attorneys general from: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Rutledge and Google Host Internet Safety Event for Lonoke YouthTue, May 19, 2015
LONOKE – Today, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Google representatives paid a visit to Lonoke to deliver the Online Safety Roadshow, an online safety assembly developed by Google for middle school students.
Two Google employees delivered the 45 minute presentation, which focused on five tips for staying safe and being smart online. They covered topics including: thinking before you share, setting strong passwords, using settings, identifying online scams and being positive online.
Attorney General Rutledge participated in today’s presentation at the Gina Cox Center. She opened the assembly by expressing the benefits of technology but also the importance of online safety to the students.
“Technological advances bring both exciting opportunities and greater risk to our children as they use computers, smartphones and tablets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am committed to making Arkansas a leader in online safety by teaching our students how to safely use the Internet. I am proud to bring Google to Arkansas to advance our mutual goal of keeping our children safe online.”
“With students increasingly having access to the Internet through cell phones and other devices, it is important that they learn to use these tools responsibly,” said Sana Rahman, a Google spokesperson. “The Online Safety Roadshow teaches how to be smart and safe online through a fun and interactive assembly.”
The Online Safety Roadshow is designed to educate parents and students on how to be more successful and safe online. The presentation teaches students how to be smart about the content they share online.
For more tips about how to keep yourself and your family safe online, visit google.com/safetycenter.
Rutledge Joins State and Federal Crackdown on Four Sham Cancer CharitiesTue, May 19, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other state officials from across the country in a complaint charging four sham cancer charities and their operators with defrauding and stealing more than $187 million from consumers.
The so-called charities told donors their money would go to help cancer patients, including children and women suffering from breast cancer, but the overwhelming majority of the donations benefitted only the perpetrators, their families, friends and fundraisers.
“Anytime an Arkansan makes a donation to a cause, they should have full confidence that the money will be used for its intended purpose,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unfortunately, con artists have discovered that a quick and easy way to make money is by posing as charities. These four charities targeted donors in every state, and misrepresented the scope and nature of their charitable programs in order to benefit themselves and close friends.”
Named in the federal court complaint are Cancer Fund of America Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc., Cancer Support Services Inc., The Breast Cancer Society Inc., James Reynolds Sr., Kyle Effler, Rose Perkins and James Reynolds Jr.
Children’s Cancer Fund of America, the Breast Cancer Society, Effler, Perkins and Reynolds, Jr. have agreed to settle the charges against them. Under the proposed settlement orders, the settling individual defendants will be banned from fundraising, charity management and oversight of charitable assets, and Children’s Cancer Fund of America and The Breast Cancer Society will be dissolved. Litigation will continue against Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services and Reynolds Sr.
According to the complaint, the defendants made misleading and deceptive statements through telemarketing calls, direct mail and websites. The defendants portrayed themselves as legitimate charities with substantial programs providing direct support to cancer patients in the U.S. Defendants claimed to provide patients with pain medication, transportation to chemotherapy and hospice care. These claims were deceptive and according to the complaint, the charities “operated as personal fiefdoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation, with none of the financial and governance controls that any bona fide charity would have adopted.”
The complaint goes on to say that the defendants used the organizations for lucrative employment for family members and friends, as well as spent consumer donations on cars, trips, luxury cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting and concert tickets and dating site memberships. The charities hired professional fundraisers, who often received 85 percent or more of every donation.
In order to hide their high administrative and fundraising costs from donors and regulators, the defendants falsely inflated their revenues by reporting in publicly filed financial documents over $223 million in donated “gifts in kind,” which they claimed to distribute to international recipients. However, the defendants were merely pass-through agents for such goods. By reporting the inflated “gift-in-kind” donations, the defendants created the illusion that they were larger and more efficient with donors’ dollars than they actually were. Arkansas and 35 other states alleged that the defendants filed false and misleading financial statements with state charities regulators.
In addition, the FTC, Arkansas and 35 other states have charged Cancer Fund of America Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc. and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. with providing professional fundraisers with deceptive fundraising materials.
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for the Remainder of MayTue, May 19, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for the remainder of the month of May.
Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents who are having consumer issues and help them file consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents.
Rutledge created the initiative so that the office would be accessible to everyone, not just those that call the capital city home. Arkansans should know that the Attorney General believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/agleslierutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/agrutledge.
Attorney General Mobile Offices schedule can be found below:
Thursday, May 21
9 – 11 a.m.
Waldron City Hall, Council Room
370 Featherston St.
Waldron, AR 72958
Thursday, May 21
12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Fort Smith Public Library
3201 Rogers Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72903
Tuesday, May 26
9 a.m. – noon
Carmichael Community Center, Room #1
801 S. Elm St.
Searcy, AR 72143
Tuesday, May 26
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Jacksonville City Hall, Council Chambers
1 Municipal Drive
Jacksonville, AR 72076
Friday, May 29
9 – 11 a.m.
Clay County Courthouse, Courtroom
151 S. 2nd Ave.
Piggott, AR 72454
Friday, May 29
12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Pocahontas Community Center, Room #1
300 Geneva Drive
Pocahontas, AR 72455
Rutledge Marks Peace Officers Memorial DayFri, May 15, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today attended the Arkansas State Police Memorial Service for troopers who died in the line of duty. Rutledge issued a statement in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day after the event.
“The tragic death of a Johnson County deputy last night is a solemn reminder of the serious dangers police officers put their lives in to serve and protect,” said Attorney General Rutledge. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the fallen officer, his fellow officers and the people of Johnson County.
“I was proud to join law enforcement officers this morning to pay tribute to the men and women who have served as Arkansas State Troopers and given everything for the safety of our communities. During National Police Week and on Peace Officers Memorial Day, I encourage all Arkansans to thank the men and women who humbly wear the badge so that we may sleep a little easier at night. As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer, I salute our officers and thank them for their bravery, dedication and sacrifice.”