Rutledge Delivers Statewide Advisory to Alarm CompaniesWed, Aug 14, 2019
Says, ‘working with businesses in advance will alleviate potential illegal activity’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is sending an advisory letter to residential alarm companies due to an alarming number of complaints against these businesses. In 2018, Rutledge’s office received over 100 complaints against alarm businesses who subjected consumers to aggressive door-to-door sales practices, deceptive marketing and refused to honor timely contract cancellations. The advisory will educate businesses on illegal business practices as well as warn the bad actors of the consequences for the use of misleading and deceptive tactics.
“My office has received too many complaints against alarm companies, and this advisory is an opportunity to educate companies about their obligations and to inform potential buyers of their rights,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Working with businesses in advance will alleviate potential illegal activity and prevent many consumers from jumping into contracts.”
Rutledge’s advisory highlights provisions of the Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), with specific requirements each company, contract and employee must comply with:
- At every interaction, the salespersons must clearly disclose which company they represent and that their purpose is to sell goods or services.
- Misrepresenting the nature of the contact as a quiz, survey or model home offer or anything other than a sales contact is illegal.
- Alarm companies must provide oral and written notice of the consumer’s three-day right to cancel at the time of the sale.
- Salespersons and written contracts must clearly disclose the total price, down payment, unpaid balance, the number, amount and due dates for payments, and accurately describe the goods and services sold.
- Automatic renewal of professional home security contracts after the initial contract term may only be in successive monthly terms.
- Contracts shall conspicuously state that the consumer has the right to terminate the contract without additional penalty at the end of the initial term.
Violations of HSSA or DTPA may be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation with enhanced penalties for elderly and disabled victims.
If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions by an alarm company, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge and Cotton Host Roundtable Discussions in BatesvilleTue, Aug 13, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton held roundtable discussions today with various local leaders in Rutledge’s hometown of Batesville. The Attorney General and the Senator heard directly from members of the community on topics including education, manufacturing, healthcare, financial regulations and criminal justice.
“It was a pleasure to host my good friend Senator Cotton in my hometown and to discuss with community members how we can grow more jobs locally while creating additional economic opportunities not only in Arkansas but around the world,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I look forward to continuing the partnership between our offices to make Arkansas a leader in job creation and a safer, even better place to live.”
Since taking office, Rutledge has held 335 Rutledge Roundtables with more than 3,576 attendees.
Today’s roundtables held at First Community Bank and Spartan Mowers, involved representatives from several Independence County businesses and local government offices as well as a tour of Spartan Mowers new production facility.
Rutledge Files Consumer-Protection Suit Against Hot Springs-Based Vacation Rental CompanyMon, Aug 12, 2019
Says, ‘this business has ruined many vacations and repeatedly violated Arkansas law’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in Garland County Circuit Court against the Hot Springs-based company Timeless Memories, LLC and its owners, Brittany Brown of Bonnerdale and Karen Annette Tidwell Monet of Glenwood, for advertising false, misleading and deceptive vacation rental properties on popular travel-booking websites.
“These defendants deceived consumers out of thousands of dollars who were simply trying to enjoy vacations with their families and friends,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “By over promising and under delivering, this business has ruined many vacations and repeatedly violated Arkansas law.”
The Complaint alleges that Brown, Monet and Timeless Memories advertised vacation rental properties on various travel-booking websites, including VRBO and Airbnb. Their rental property descriptions falsely advertised exclusive amenities like hot tubs and lake access that the properties did not have. Relying on these misleading listings, consumers paid defendants thousands of dollars to secure the properties for family vacations. Defendants also encouraged some consumers to pay outside of the online booking sites, which voided the sites’ online payment protection guarantees.
The Attorney General’s Office discovered at least eight affected consumers impacted by the deception perpetrated by Brown, Monet and Timeless Memories. Consumers report they tried to contact the defendants to obtain refunds with no success. According to the Complaint, consumer losses are valued at $18,911.93.
Rutledge is asking the court to impose civil penalties, restitution and attorneys’ fees and costs. In addition, she seeks to stop Brown, Monet and Timeless Memories from operating their vacation rental home business in Arkansas.
Victims of these business practices should file a consumer complaint on ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge Lauds Effort to Clarify Clean Water Act Rules to Meet Arkansas’s NeedsFri, Aug 9, 2019
Says, ‘guidance gives Arkansas the freedom we need to develop our energy infrastructure while preserving and protecting the natural beauty’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement following the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a guidance to clarify requirements in Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This action comes after President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order in April 2019 directing the EPA to work with agencies, states and tribal authorities to reduce confusion and uncertainty in the Section 401 certification process.
“Today’s guidance gives Arkansas the freedom we need to develop our energy infrastructure while preserving and protecting the natural beauty and water resources that draw millions of Americans to our state each year,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I commend the Administration for collaborating with states to allow for recommendations that best fit the needs of Arkansans.”
The proposed rulemaking replaces the 2010 interim guidance issued by EPA and will clarify and streamline Section 401 certifications of the CWA.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Grant County Man for Possession of Child Sexual Exploitation MaterialFri, Aug 9, 2019
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Grant County man for downloading and viewing child sexual exploitation material.
Larry Lee Brooks, 32 of Sheridan was arrested and charged with ten counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.
After an initial search warrant was served at the Sheridan home, Special Agents with the Cyber Crime Unit seized a laptop, all in one computer, three Xboxes and multiple hard drives containing several sexually explicit files of children. The case will be turned over to the Seventh Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Howell.
Rutledge Urges Netflix, Amazon & Hulu to Self-Regulate Tobacco ImageryWed, Aug 7, 2019
Says, ‘a resurgence of tobacco and nicotine use by our youth and school-aged children’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined 42 state attorneys general and jurisdictions in a letter to U.S. companies that stream movies and television shows urging them to adopt better business practices to protect young viewers from tobacco imagery in video content. The letter was sent to popular companies which include Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
“Due to the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, we are experiencing a resurgence of tobacco and nicotine use by our youth and school-aged children,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “When our children see these dangerous products glamorized by the Hollywood industry they are more likely to become smokers which creates a cycle of addiction that we have been fighting for decades.”
The letter urges streaming companies to exclude tobacco imagery from content designated for children, adolescents, families and general audiences, and to improve parental controls so that parents and guardians may easily restrict access to content with tobacco imagery.
A 2018 report published by the Truth Initiative and the University of California San Francisco found that popular streamed shows viewed by young people featured an increased frequency of tobacco imagery than shows on broadcast or cable television. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that adolescents who watch content with smoking are more likely to become smokers.
The full list of companies receiving the letter include: Amazon Prime, AT&T (DirecTV Now; HBO Now), Cinemax, CBS Corp. (CBS All Access), Disney (DisneyNOW, Disney+, ESPN+), Hulu (Disney), iTunes (Apple), Netflix, Sony (Crackle, Playstation Vue), Starz, Viacom (Pluto TV), Walmart (Vudu), and Youtube (Google), along with streaming services expected from Comcast Corp. (NBCUniversal), Discovery (HGTV, Animal Planet), and AT&T’s WarnerMedia Service.
The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) resolved lawsuits on behalf of 46 states and six other jurisdictions, including Arkansas. The MSA imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies and required the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states. The Attorney General is tasked with enforcing the obligations of the MSA and tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.