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Attorney General Alerts

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Let Scam Artists Clean Out Wallet after Storm Damage

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Don’t Let Scam Artists Clean Out Wallet after Storm Damage

Wed, Sep 2, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Tropical Storm Laura brought devastating weather to Arkansas and has been wreaking havoc on our communities and neighboring states. As countless storm victims assess the damages, con artists see opportunities to take advantage of Arkansans who suffered property damage or losses. Vulnerable Arkansans should use caution when seeking a contractor or professional to complete repairs.

“Arkansans always come together after a natural disaster, but it is also common in bad situations to see bad actors,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These bad actors prey on victims of severe weather to take advantage of the potentially urgent nature of storm damage repairs. I urge anyone who is seeking home and auto repairs to be cautious of potential scams that are common after storms.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure consumers hire reputable contractors to complete the repairs:

  • 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. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
  • Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide a written contract.
  • Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure to obtain business.
  • Obtain and check at least three references from the contractor or professional.
  • Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
  • Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
  • Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that the project will be completed. Never make the final payment until there has been an opportunity to inspect the work.
  • Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Shut Down Scammers Threatening to Shut off Utilities

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Shut Down Scammers Threatening to Shut off Utilities

Fri, Aug 21, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – As the hustle and bustle of school returns and families begin in their own unique routines, scam artists are using an old playbooks to identify ways to trick Arkansans by claiming they have not paid their utility bill. The scam involves Caller ID spoofing to make the name or phone number of the utility company display on the phone’s screen. The scam artists will then claim the consumer must pay immediately over the phone because a representative is on their way to disconnect their services. Be cautious of unsolicited calls and consider hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from an independent source and calling them to confirm any outstanding balance.

“Remember, you should never be forced to make an immediate payment for utilities over the phone and or give away your personal information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:

  • Add the utility payment due date on a calendar when the bill is received.
  • Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.
  • Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
  • Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system, if it is offered.
  • Mail the payment to the company directly.

The scammer may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the amount owed. The scammer will ask for the code on the purchased card, which gives them complete access to money on the card. In most cases, once the prepaid card money is depleted, it cannot be recovered. Remember, utilities will not require you to pay by gift card or prepaid debit card – scammers will.

Arkansans should notify the company if they have been contacted by one of these scammers. If Arkansans have turned over money to the scammer, file a complaint with the Attorney General.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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Protect Your Credit and Identity from Unemployment Fraud

Protect Your Credit and Identity from Unemployment Fraud

Wed, Aug 5, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Unemployment fraud has become a prevalent problem in Arkansas and around the nation. The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services recently announced over 37,000 suspected fraudulent unemployment claims have been identified and are being investigated in Arkansas. Depending upon the extent of the fraud, consumers may choose to request a fraud alert or security freeze with the credit reporting agencies or to seek an ID Theft Passport from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office if unauthorized lines of credit have been opened.

“Con artists are filing unemployment claims using stolen information and potentially ruining the good names of nearly 40,000 Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “No one is safe from these criminals who have brazenly attempted to file a claim pretending to be Governor Asa Hutchinson.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for those who believe they have been a victim of identity theft:

Many consumers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information and want to prevent fraud and identity theft. Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to never give their personal information over the phone or via email, to use strong passwords on all online accounts and to be diligent in reviewing all types of financial statements.

Committing identity theft in Arkansas is a felony and comes with a sentence that could include incarceration, fines up to $25,000 and restitution. Consumers are advised that if you receive funds that you did not apply for and that you were not expecting, do not accept them. Instead, report the matter to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services at 501-682-1058 and to local law enforcement. Even if you did not request the funds, accepting such funds as part of an unemployment scam is unlawful.

For more information on identity theft and other consumer related issues, or to apply for an ID Theft Passport, contact the Arkansas Attorney General's Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Unsolicited Packages of Seeds Hitting Arkansans’ Mailboxes

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Unsolicited Packages of Seeds Hitting Arkansans’ Mailboxes

Fri, Jul 31, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Americans to watch out for unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be shipped from China. According to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the identities of the seeds are unknown and may be an invasive plant species. Arkansans who have received a package of seeds should immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

“Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds should not open it and immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture who is working to determine the identity of the seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge people to not open or plant these seeds because as a farm family, I understand the devastating impact invasive plants can have on crops and the ripple effect those financial losses can have on harming our state’s economy. ”

Attorney General Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend the following tips if Arkansans receive an unsolicited package of seeds:

  • Immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.
  • Place the unopened seeds in a sealed package and turn over the label and packaging to the appropriate authorities.
  • Do not plant the seeds.

The USDA and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture are collecting seeds received from across the nation to identify the seeds and determine if they pose a threat to agriculture or the environment of the United States.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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Fake Pet Scams Trick Arkansans into Paying for Cute Dogs

Fake Pet Scams Trick Arkansans into Paying for Cute Dogs

Wed, Jul 29, 2020

Scam artists are online pretending to sell friendly dogs to their forever homes, but are taking consumers’ money without turning over a new fluffy friend. Often, scammers post ads on free buy-and-sell websites and use endearing photos of the animal they have no intention of sending, or may not even own.

“Con artists see families considering a new pet as an opportunity to get into Arkansans’ wallets,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We have seen scam artists using fake email addresses to trick consumers into paying additional fees for shipping the animals via air travel when these cons do not even have a pet for sale.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips to avoid falling victim to a scammer selling a pet that does not exist.

  • Visit the breeder or rescue group in person offering the pet. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.
  • Arrange to pick up the animal from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.
  • Search the user’s profile for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.
  • Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.
  • Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent breeder.
  • Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam.

Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to do their research regarding adopting and purchasing pets. If you have questions about a potential pet shipper, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association provides a list of trusted shippers across the world.

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 visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Targeting Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Scam Artists Targeting Arkansans’ Social Security Numbers

Wed, Jul 22, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, the lull from robocalls has ended and bad actors are again seeking the social security numbers of our most vulnerable. The Attorney General’s Office has seen an increase in complaints where scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and threaten consumers into providing personal information or asking for money.

“It’s time to reinforce an important fact: the government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be from the government, requesting personal or financial information, immediately hang up the phone. Let my office do the fighting for you by reporting these illegal calls.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government impostor:

  • Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or social security numbers, to an unsolicited caller.
  • Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.
  • The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.
  • The Social Security Administration can be contacted at (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 (800) 269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you have provided your social security number to a scammer, visit www.identitytheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your identity.

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

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