Southwest Arkansas Daily
published by KDQN
870-642-2446 or 870-898-3624

[Home]     [Announcements]  [Branson Tickets]    [Cattle Report]    [Churches] [Classifieds]   [Comments]   [Contact Us]   [EEO Information]   [Live Remotes]   [Local News] [Obituaries]   [Photo Album]   [Sports]   [Trophy Room] [Upcoming Events]  [Weather]


  

 

07/12/17

 

CONSUMER ALERT: Snapchat Scare

 
LITTLE ROCK – With Snapchat releasing new tracking features for their app, users need to be aware of new risks. Snapchat is a mobile messaging app that allows users to send and receive pictures that are displayed on screen for, at most, 10 seconds. The new update dubbed Snap Map now allows Snapchat “friends” to track others’ locations when the app is open.
 
Although the update was only introduced recently, GPS tracking apps are already concerning law enforcement due to potential safety problems. Officials worry that location-based services on apps make children and teens more vulnerable to predators. For Snapchat, when the Snap Map feature is enabled, any “friends” can track your location. Snapchat has implemented a Ghost Mode for users to hide from the map feature which can be turned on by pinching the screen when the camera is open in the app, tap the settings icon in the top right corner and swipe to enable the feature.
 
“Adults need to be aware that these location tracking apps could potentially put young people in danger,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Allowing followers to track your location at all times can be dangerous, especially if you do not personally know all of your ‘friends' on social media. Adults must be as concerned about a potential online stalker as they would be about an in-person stalker."
 
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to protect children from online predators:

  • Talk to children about sexual victimization and the potential of online danger.
  • Utilize parental controls and blocking software on mobile devices.
  • Make sure children keep passwords, pictures and personal information to themselves.
  • Remind children never to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they first met online.
  • Teach children not to post anything online that they would not want others to see.
  • Help them remember people they meet online are not always who they say they are.
  • Tell them not to respond to messages that are inappropriate or make them feel uncomfortable.
  • Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter a problem online.
  • Consider disabling all location-based services on mobile devices, which is typically accessible in the privacy settings.

With apps and technology always changing and updating, it is important for adults to keep up and know the programs on their child’s phone.
 
The Attorney General’s office is hosting an internet safety
webcast on Wednesday, Aug. 2, as well as provides a technology tip card for consumers, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and a Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety. Community educators are also available to present an internet safety program to parents and educators, and regional cyber safety trainings are available this summer for educators across the state. The FBI also provides internet safety tips for parents to discuss with children.
 
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.

 

 

6/14/17

CONSUMER ALERT: Online Predators Working Overtime During Summer Months



LITTLE ROCK – Online predators target children during the summer months when school is out and children spend more time on the internet.

Parents and adults can protect children while they are accessing online resources and having fun on social media.

"Online predators look to take advantage of a child’s innocence by intimidating them or trying to put them into inappropriate situations,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “And that is why parents and adults must be vigilant in knowing what children are doing and who exactly they are talking to online to make sure they are safe.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for parents to implement this summer while their children are home on summer vacation:


The Attorney General’s office is hosting an internet safety webcast on August 2 and also provides a tip card for consumers, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and offers a Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety. Community educators are also available to present an internet safety program to parents and educators and regional cyber safety trainings are available this summer for educators across the state.

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.
 

05/31/17

CONSUMER ALERT: Scammers Prey on Flood Victims as They Rebuild


LITTLE ROCK – Many families in Arkansas are still cleaning up from the historic floods that hit our state about a month ago. As flood waters recede, some of the damage is becoming more visible, and some are trying to use the floods to line their own pockets by selling water damaged items.

“Some retailers and sellers are transparent that items may have water damage, but others try to hide any damage from potential buyers,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans need to be cautious when purchasing electronics, furniture or equipment and look for potential damage themselves. Consumers should also understand that some flood damage may not be visible at first glance and mold or other problems could be inside the item.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans to consider before making any large purchases of items that could have been involved in the recent flooding:
Consumers should always buy items from reputable sellers. In order to learn more about business reputations, consumers may check online reviews and consult with other known customers of such businesses.
Be careful if buying electronics or lawn equipment that is either advertised as flood-damaged or suspected of having been submerged in liquid. Such items may not only fail to function properly, but they may present a hazard to health and safety.
Ask questions and exercise due diligence. If the item is agricultural equipment or is subject to legal title requirements and can be searched, then do so.
Have a professional inspect or appraise the item for you. If it is a furniture item, be mindful that mold and other harmful substances may have come into contact with the item.
Ask the merchant about their return policy, and ask for a copy of the return policy. Confirm that you have the ability to return the item if needed.
Check with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s office to see if any related complaints have been filed against the business.

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.
 

05/19/17

CONSUMER ALERT: Sweepstakes Scams Stealing Arkansans Cash


LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are making unsolicited phone calls and sending unsolicited emails to convince Arkansans they have won a sweepstakes or lottery. But there is a catch – “winners” must first wire a processing fee or fill out a form to provide banking information to the con artist so the money can be deposited. This is a scam.

“Arkansans work hard for their money, and these criminals who do what they can to steal from us are appalling,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office has had recent calls from Arkansans reporting they were told they had won $2 million – if only they would send $900. Consumers need to be cautious when receiving unsolicited phone calls or emails. Legitimate organizations will never require a processing fee or private banking information in exchange for a prize.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers spot one of these scams:
Consumers should not try to collect winnings from a sweepstakes they do not remember entering.
Never give out personal financial information.
Do not pay any money up front in an attempt to claim a prize.
Always remember, if it looks or seems too good to be true, it mostly likely is.
Scammers often use the name of legitimate businesses, like Publishers Clearinghouse, or a similar name to trick consumers into turning over their information.

No matter how the consumer is notified, there is a good chance the consumer will lose money instead of winning it. When money is wired to a foreign country, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get it returned.

Consumers should ignore all unsolicited sweepstakes prices and immediately contact the Attorney General’s office to report the call or email.

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.
 

 

CONSUMER ALERT: Pet Owners Beware of Ransom Scams

04/27/17



LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are hunting families with lost pets. Con artists scour social media sites looking for families who have recently posted that their beloved pet is missing. These scammers then contact the family and say they have the pet and will return it for a sum of money, but the scammer does not actually have the pet. Many families are so desperate for their four-legged family member to return home that they are willing to pay the ransom, no questions asked. The con artist runs away with the money, and the pet owner is left without their pet and less money.

“Many of us treat our pets like family members, so when one goes missing, our hearts break,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is shameful that these criminals would take advantage of someone suffering through the loss of a pet.“

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to avoid falling victim to this scam:
Be cautious if your pet is lost and receive a call from someone claiming to have the animal and asking for money in return if a reward was not initially offered.
Ask questions about the pet that only someone who is with the animal would know before turning over any money.
Do not turn over any money without proof the person has your pet.
Always offer to meet the person in a public place and never give the person on the other end of the phone your address.
This scam has been reported in communities across Arkansas, with some families even reportedly turning over a few hundred dollars to the scammer.

With people and pets spending more time outside during the spring and summer months, pet scams tend to increase this time of year, including stealing pets from unattended backyards and vehicles. Scammers have been known to steal photos of pets and try to sell them online, and some con artists will post as animal rescue charities using names similar to reputable charities in an effort to steal your money. Thoroughly research perspective pet sellers and charities to make sure you are dealing with reputable organizations.

Contact local police if you believe you may be being extorted.

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.
 

 

 

 Car Warranty Scams Aim to Steal Cash



LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are reporting unscrupulous sales people who aim to scare them into purchasing unnecessary third-party car warranties to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. The sales pitches are usually over the phone with scammers posing as a representative of a car dealer, manufacturer or insurer and telling consumers that their car warranty is about to expire. The scammers hope to obtain personal or financial information about the consumer can be convincing.

“Scammers use high pressure tactics to trick consumers into turning over private information in hopes of remaining under the safety net of a car warranty,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “My office has recently seen an uptick of consumers receiving these robocalls. It can be difficult to discern if these types of calls are scams, but best practice is to never give personal information over the phone, especially if the phone call is unsolicited.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers spot this type of scam and avoid falling victim:
•Never give out personal or banking information in response to a phone, email or mail inquiry. Contact the entity requesting the information directly through a different method to verify that it is a reputable company with which you have an existing relationship.
•Wiring money is like giving cash away. If you wire money, there is no protection for you if you later learn that the recipient is not who they claimed to be.
•Investigate offers before paying any money.
•Review bank statements and credit card statements regularly. Monitor financial account statements for any unusual activity and promptly report any unauthorized charges to the account provider.

If the scammers’ sales pitch has you concerned that you may require an extended warranty, first check your manufacturer’s warranty to verify the coverage you already have and if you choose to purchase an extended warranty, review the exclusions before purchasing. Many extended warranties are very expensive and the coverage will be much more limited than the coverage included in the manufacturer’s warranty. Research different companies to determine if the product is needed and right for you.

Consumers can file complaints about suspected scam calls with the Federal Communications Commission and 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.


 

 

 

Sunshine Week Sheds Light on FOIA


LITTLE ROCK – An open and transparent government is imperative for both the press and the public to hold government officials accountable for their actions. The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted by the General Assembly in 1967 and is considered one of the strongest and most comprehensive open-records and open-meetings laws in the United States.
National Sunshine Week, March 12-18, brings sunshine laws and the FOIA to the forefront to educate citizens about their rights when it comes to government accountability.

“Arkansas’s FOIA holds government officials accountable at all levels, including state and local leaders,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Attorney General’s office is committed to educating all Arkansans about their rights to an open and public government through the FOIA.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips regarding Arkansas’s FOIA:
The law gives Arkansans broad access to public records and public meetings, with limited exceptions.

When a governing body meets to conduct the people’s business, the meeting is a public meeting and is subject to the open-meetings provisions of the FOIA.

A public record is defined as any writing, sound recording, video or electronic or computer-based information that reflects the performance or lack of performance of official functions.

All records maintained by public employees within the scope of their employment are presumed to be public records, though several exemptions may shield a record (or certain information in a record) from disclosure.

Government entities generally have up to three working days to provide a record requested under FOIA.

Custodians of records may only charge for the “actual costs” of reproducing public records, plus mailing expenses.

Notice of public meetings must be provided to anyone who has asked to be notified, and two-hour notice of special or emergency meetings must be provided to members of the news media who have requested notice of such meetings.

Governing bodies may only enter into closed meetings, also known as “executive sessions,” for the purpose of considering employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of an individual officer or employee. But following the executive session, the governing body must reconvene in public and formally vote on the matter discussed in the executive session.

The Attorney General’s office partners with the Arkansas Press Association and other organizations to produce and distribute the “Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook.” The Handbook’s 17th edition was published in December 2015. Free copies of the handbook are available by completing the short online form, or contacting the Attorney General’s office at community@arkansasag.gov or 501-682-2007.
The Attorney General’s office recently presented an online webcast about the Arkansas FOIA.

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.
 

 

VETERAN ALERT: Lost Military Records Can Be Replaced


LITTLE ROCK – Military medical or personnel records can get lost or misplaced, which can be frustrating if a service member has passed away and the family would like the deceased person’s records for posterity.


These records may be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center by the next of kin, normally at no cost. Next of kin is considered the surviving spouse who has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother. Proof of death of the veteran must be provided.


“There are a number of reasons that a veteran or family member may want military separation documents, service personnel records or medical records,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These records are used for applying for veteran benefits, retirement preparation, funeral or even researching family military history.”


To release records, the National Archives requires the following information about the veteran:


• Complete name used while in service
• Service number
• Social Security number
• Branch of service
• Dates of service
• Date and place of birth


All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin. If the veteran is deceased, proof of death, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary when requesting documents.


Service information can be requested from eVetRecs online or by filling out an SF180 form and following the instructions to mail or fax the form. Urgent records requests can be made by adding the nature of the urgency and deadline in the comments section of eVetRecs or in the purpose section of the SF180 form.


The government provides basic military personnel and medical records information at no charge if the veteran was discharged after 1955. If the discharge occurred prior to 1955, the records have been archived and could be subject to a fee. If the request involves a service fee, the requester will be notified as soon as possible.


Arkansas military service members, veterans and families can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.


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.


 

CONSUMER ALERT: Refund Anticipation Loans and Checks Can Cost Consumers
 

LITTLE ROCK – Some car salesman use high pressure tactics to slither their way into a consumer’s wallet. Car dealerships and other large-item retailers are trying to encourage Arkansans to let their salesmen do the consumer’s taxes. The salesmen can “predict” the tax refund amount and encourage the consumer to enter into a loan with the business to purchase a large ticket item. This is also called a Refund Anticipation Loan and may end up costing the consumer more than filing his or her own return.
“Refund Anticipation Loans can be risky and costly for consumers,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The actual refund may only cover a portion of the loan, leaving the consumer on the hook for the rest of the money and often at an inflated interest rate.”


Attorney General Rutledge released the following considerations before agreeing to have taxes prepared as part of a Refund Anticipation Loan:

• Free or low-cost options such as the online Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance may be options.


• Electronically filed returns can be deposited in bank accounts in as few as eight days.


• The IRS can also provide refunds by check or prepaid debit card.


• Always get a written list of fees before entering into any agreement or requesting tax preparation assistance.


Refund Anticipation Checks are similar to Refund Anticipation Loans and can be attractive to some consumers because businesses often waive tax preparation fees, but many Arkansans can obtain free tax preparation services. The IRS provides a Free File program online that is a federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for approximately 70 percent of taxpayers who earn less than $64,000. Eligible consumers can go to IRS.gov and choose from multiple private companies that will file federal returns at no charge.


Some Arkansans may also be eligible to receive free help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Meanwhile, seniors can contact AARP to learn more about the tax preparation services they provide.


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.

 

CONSUMER ALERT: “Can you hear me?” Scam


LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans are being victimized by con artists who use audio editing equipment to create false authorization recordings to make unauthorized purchases on credit cards or add-ons to utility bills. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has received a number of reports of the scam in which callers are asking “Can you hear me?” in order to elicit a “yes” response from the consumer which the scammer will then use for illegal or fraudulent purposes.

“This robocall scam can be dangerous if Arkansans don’t protect themselves,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is best to just hang up on the caller if you are suspicious.”

Attorney General Rutledge released to following tips to avoid this scam:

•Use caller ID and let unknown numbers go to voicemail.

•Avoid talking to unknown callers and hang up if you are suspicious.

•Monitor bank and credit card statements, along with utility bills for any charges you did not make.

In this scam, the caller has reportedly asked questions such as “Can you hear me?” “Are you the lady of the house?” “Are you the homeowner?” “Is this <insert phone number>?” or “Do you pay the household telephone bills?” all hoping for the same result -- a “yes” answer that can be recorded for further use.

In addition to recording your voice to make a false authorization that can be played back to approve additional charges, by talking to unknown callers, scammers will know that the number is active and are more likely to sell the number and lead to more unwanted calls from disreputable solicitors.

Report this scam to the Attorney General’s office and also contact the Federal Trade Commission if an unauthorized credit card transaction has been processed or the Federal Communications Commission if an additional charge is added to a phone bill.

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.
 

 

CONSUMER ALERT: Million Dollar Giveaway? It May Be a Scam.

LITTLE ROCK – Scammers are using the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) name to steal money from people across The Natural State. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office recently received complaints of Arkansans getting phone calls, often with a Jamaican area code, from someone claiming to be from the AGFC. The person receiving the call is told they are the winner of a $2.5 million giveaway. The only thing they need to do to claim their winnings is wire an $850 “processing fee.” This is a scam.

“Scammers know that pretending to be from a respected agency makes them more believable,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans must stay diligent and never wire money to someone they do not know. If you have to send money to get money, it is a scam.”

Attorney General Rutledge offered the following tips for anyone who receives this call or one similar.
•A consumer should never have to pay something to receive a “free” prize. Be wary of anyone requiring payment in advance to obtain winnings.

•Be cautious if someone asks that a fee be paid through a pre-paid credit card or by wiring money. If payments are made, the money may never be seen again. Legitimate organizations will accept standard and traceable forms of payments.

•People who accept these offers become targets of other scammers when their information is shared or sold to others.

•Never provide any financial account information to an unknown person or entity.

•If the call is from a government agency, consider hanging up and calling the agency back on a phone number found on their website.

Although the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission does offer small prizes, such as free hunting or fishing licenses or fishing poles, they do not offer cash prizes. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission encourages Arkansans who receive this call to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, and if there are any questions, AGFC can be contacted at 501-223-6300.

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.


 

 

CONSUMER ALERT: Fake Tax Bills Tricking Consumers


LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Attorney General warns that con artists are sending fake tax bills claiming to be from the IRS demanding immediate payment from Arkansans and threatening arrest if money is not sent. Consumers are being sent a fraudulent version of a CP2000 form for tax year 2015 as an email with an attachment or by standard mail requesting personal financial information and asking for payment via gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

 
“This new play on an old scam is another shameful attempt by criminals to steal Arkansans' personal information and hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If Arkansans receive one of these letters they suspect may be a scam, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. And as a reminder, the IRS will never make unsolicited calls to or requests through email or social media from taxpayers for personal information.”


The following tips can be used to spot a fake tax bill:


        • The CP2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address


        • The letter or email says the issue is related to the Affordable Care Act and requests information regarding 2014 coverage


        • The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C


        • The sender requests that checks be made out to I.R.S. and sent to the “Austin Processing Center” at a post office box.


According to the IRS, the form CP2000 does exist, but it is used when income reported from a third-party source does not match the income reported on the tax return. The fake form provides little, if any, instruction to taxpayers about appealing additional money owed, but the real form provides extensive information. And some versions of the scam include a “payment” link within the email, which could be set up to steal personal information, take money or infect the computer with malware. The real notice also requests checks be made out to “United States Treasury.”


Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.


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.

 

 

CONSUMER ALERT: Gift Cards – What You Should Know

LITTLE ROCK – It is exciting to purchase that new toy a child in your life wants or give that perfect gift a relative needs, but sometimes it can be difficult to settle on the right gift. Many Arkansans turn to gift cards as the perfect item for the Christmas season, and it is important to know that gift card recipients have certain protections that have been put in place by both the federal government and the State of Arkansas.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to ensure gift card recipients know the protections that are currently in place to guard them from being taken advantage of and to ensure they are able to use the gift card for its intended purpose.

“Gift cards are popular because they allow recipients to get exactly what they want from a retailer or restaurant,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important for all Arkansans to know and understand the protections they are granted when they receive a gift card this holiday season.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of State and federal protections under State law and federal rules.

·         A gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card. If the expiration dates listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.

·         Inactivity fees can be charged only when a card has not been used for at least one year.

·         The expiration date must be clearly disclosed on the card.

·         Fees must be clearly disclosed on the card or its packaging.

The Arkansas Fair Gift Card Act applies not only to gift cards but also gift certificates and prepaid cards but does not apply to loyalty reward program gift cards. The federal rules only apply to the plastic swipe cards, which usually contain a magnetic strip and look similar to a credit or debit card.

If there is a problem with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card. If the problem cannot be resolved at that level, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information about 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.

 

ENERGY ALERT: Falling Temperatures. Climbing Heating Costs.


LITTLE ROCK – Air conditioners across Arkansas are finally getting a break with temperatures now dipping into the 30s overnight, but the lower the temperature falls, the more work our furnaces and heating units do, which can lead to increased energy costs.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to help Arkansans save some money while heating their home this winter.
“High heating costs can have a big impact on family budgets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But there are a few steps to take that can help keep your home warm while saving money.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to keep energy costs lower throughout the colder months.

    • Keep curtains open during the day for natural heat, and close them at night to retain the heat.
    • Use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature when no one is home.
    • Seal cracks or holes around the home by weather-stripping doors and windows and adding insulation to walls, the attic and crawlspace          to prevent it from losing heat.
    • Set ceiling fans to spin clockwise to recirculate rising hot air.
    • Make sure baseboard heaters, air vents and radiators are not obstructed.
    • Service the heating system at least once a year to ensure it is operating properly.
    • Consider wrapping the water heater in a water heater jacket or blanket and turning down the temperature to the warm setting to save money.
    • Close the vents and doors to rooms that are not being used.
    • Keep air filters clean and replace regularly.

Use caution while using space heaters. Keep them away from flammable materials and consider the impact it could have on the energy bill. The Department of Energy reports that space heaters account for about 45 percent of energy bills in average U.S. homes.

Also, be cautious of products claiming to drastically lower heating costs and avoid unsolicited high-pressure sales calls for visits from contractors offering furnaces, windows, roofing and other home-improvement projects. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Arkansans having trouble paying heating or electricity bills this winter should contact their region’s Arkansas Community Action Agency to learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program.

For more information about 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
 

 

September 13, 2016

Please add the following to your community calendar from the Attorney General’s office for Tuesday, September 20.

Attorney General Mobile Office: The mobile offices assist constituents with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints and providing information about scams, identity theft, fraud and other protections.
10:30 a.m. to noon
Sevier County Senior Citizens Center – De Queen

Prescription Drug Take Back: Authorities will be collecting prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers and medicine samples.
10:30 a.m. to noon
Sevier County Senior Citizens Center – De Queen
Prescription drug take back partner: Sheriff Benny Simmons


Digital You is a comprehensive, interactive educational program created by AT&T and Common Sense Media to offer tools, tips, apps, guidance and community education events for people of all ages and levels of online experience to learn more about how to have a safe and secure online experience.
Digital You Senior Presentation: Seniors and older adults who are digital newcomers will be given tips and tricks to learn how to use mobile devices, navigate the Internet, recognize scams, keep private information secure, back up data and more so that they can be empowered online.
10 to 10:30 a.m. Sevier County Senior Citizens Center – De Queen
 

August 17, 2016

CONSUMER ALERT: Air Bag Recalls Expanding

LITTLE ROCK – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to issue recalls for Takata air bags. The air bags used by many popular manufacturers, including Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and more, were reportedly made with a propellant that can degrade over time causing the air bag to rupture and propel shards of metal into the vehicle. According to the NHTSA, the air bags have attributed to at least 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States.

The NHTSA is urging consumers to not drive certain 2001-2003 Honda vehicles and to immediately call the dealer to schedule a free repair. It is believed that the inflators in these vehicles are at a higher risk of rupturing during air bag deployment.

The recall was expanded earlier this summer to as many as 68 million inflators. The expansion includes all driver and passenger frontal Takata air bags that have ammonium nitrate-based propellant air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent. The age of the inflator, along with prolonged exposure to a hot and humid climate pose a much greater risk of rupturing. According to the NHTSA, nearly 9.4 million air bags have been repaired so far.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage Arkansans to educate themselves about this recall and to take immediate action to avoid injury or even death.

“Arkansans should take all recalls seriously, especially the Takata air bag recall,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is one of the most serious and largest recalls in American history. Manufacturers are sending recall notices and replacing air bags free of charge to the vehicle owners as replacements are available. These notices should be considered urgent warnings and plans should be made to have the air bags replaced quickly.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help Arkansans research recalls and determine if the air bag in their vehicle is on the recall list.
•Visit SaferCar.gov to get the latest information on the Takata recall.
•Search the NHTSA’s database or contact the vehicle manufacturer or car dealer for recalls by the Vehicle Identification Number, which is visible from the outside of the vehicle through the driver’s side windshield.
•Sign up at SaferCar.gov to receive email notifications from the NHTSA to learn when manufacturers file new recalls.
The NHTSA has classified states into three zones in order to prioritize the air bag replacements. Arkansas is included in zone B, and the NHTSA anticipates issuing recalls in phases through December 2019. Earlier this summer, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported 22,620 vehicles that are registered in Arkansas are impacted by this recall.

For more information on auto recalls, vehicle warranties and other consumer-related issues or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
 

 

08/10/2016

CONSUMER ALERT: Military Families Make Your Vote Count

LITTLE ROCK – Active duty military service members and their families are ensured voting eligibility in their state of legal residence under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This means that any active duty Arkansan stationed outside the State is still eligible to vote in the upcoming general election, including all State and local races.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to ensure military families are aware of the deadlines and the necessary steps to make their vote count on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“Just like all Americans, active duty military members should ensure they are registered to vote,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But families who are stationed in another state or overseas need to plan ahead to ensure they are registered in plenty of time, request the appropriate absentee ballot and have it turned in to be processed in a timely manner.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following dates to help Arkansans stay on track to make sure their vote counts in November:
•Friday, Sept. 23 – The federal government requires states to provide voters requesting an absentee ballot prior to this date with an absentee ballot. States can issue absentee ballots after this date, and active duty Arkansans can request an online ballot up to Election Day.
•Monday, Oct. 10 – Deadline to register to vote in the general election.
•Tuesday, Nov. 8 –Absentee ballots for active duty military members and their families must be postmarked by Election Day.
•Friday, Nov. 18 – Deadline for county clerks to receive an absentee ballot from active duty military members and their families.
According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Elections Division, absentee ballots can be delivered through either the U.S. Postal Service or Ballot Safe, a secure online website. If the military service member decides to download the ballot instead of receiving a hard copy, the ballot will need to be printed, filled out and mailed to the county clerk, postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8.

Military and family members are eligible to vote in their state of legal residence. This could be an original address, or the families can change their legal residence at each permanent duty station change. The American Bar Association encourages military families to keep voter registration, vehicle registration and State of legal residence the same for tax purposes.

Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.

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.govor visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

02/11/16

Rutledge Reaches Settlement with MoneyGram
Company failed to maintain effective anti-fraud measures

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today has reached a settlement with Dallas-based MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc. resolving a multistate investigation that tied MoneyGram to fraudulent activities based on complaints from consumers who used the company’s wire transfer service to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.

“Arkansans have heard it time and again, over the phone, in letters or in emails: ‘wire this amount of money and you will win big,’” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But these claims always turn out to be a scam, and if a consumer does wire money, it is almost impossible to get it back. MoneyGram failed to maintain effective anti-fraud measurers to prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of these fraud induced transfers. Fortunately, thanks to this settlement, restitution payments will be made available to a number of Arkansans, and MoneyGram has agreed to improve its anti-fraud program, provide more warnings to consumers and improve agent training.”

Under the terms of the settlement, MoneyGram has agreed to maintain and continue to improve a comprehensive and robust anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent consumers from suffering financial losses as a result of these types of fraud induced wire transfers.

The program must be documented in writing and at a minimum must include the following elements:
Mandatory and documented compliance training for agents and guidelines regarding when an agent’s conduct warrants suspension or termination.
Suspension or termination of agents who fail to take commercially reasonable steps to reduce fraud induced money transfers.
A hotline system – telephonic and electronic – where employees and agents can report noncompliance with anti-fraud measures.
Sound mechanisms to evaluate actual fraud rates and consumer losses from fraud-induced money transfers in order to utilize that information to improve compliance.
Continued enhancement of technology solutions, including its Anti-Fraud Alert System

Additionally, MoneyGram has agreed to pay a total of $13 million to states to fund a nationwide consumer restitution program and for the states’ costs and fees. The settlement provides for an independent third-party settlement administrator who will review MoneyGram records and send notices regarding restitution to all consumers who are eligible to receive it under the settlement. Generally, consumers who are eligible for restitution previously filed complaints with MoneyGram between July 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009, regarding fraud-induced transfers sent from the U.S. to foreign countries other than Canada.

More information about this settlement is available at the Settlement Administrator’s website, MoneyGramSettlement.com.

Rutledge reminds Arkansans who receive solicitations from strangers promising big winnings to toss those letters in the trash, delete the email or hang up the phone and those who are contacted about a grandchild, friend or family member in distress should reach out separately to the friend or family member to independently verify that the relative is actually in need of the assistance.

In addition to Arkansas, the following participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

 

2/10/16

 

Rutledge to Offer Trainings to Combat Dating Violence
Helping mark Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is continuing her push to raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence by teaming up with Break the Cycle, a leading national nonprofit organization providing comprehensive dating abuse programs, to offer workshops across Arkansas on healthy relationships and dating abuse. The three-hour trainings will delve into the youth experience of dating abuse, including the health and academic impacts and how it differs from adult experiences.

“If we can teach teenagers how to handle dating violence and to create healthy relationships, it will help curb the constant cycle of teen dating violence leading to domestic violence,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am proud to partner with Break the Cycle, the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Arkansas Department of Education to bring these important workshops here so that educators will be able to better communicate how to have healthy relationships. I encourage Arkansas teachers to take advantage of these trainings so that we can finally begin to break the cycle of abuse.”

Through Act 952, passed by the General Assembly in 2015, Arkansas students in grades 7 through 12 must receive instruction on dating violence awareness as a component of health courses. This training will give teachers the resources they need to comply with the act, and the Attorney General’s office is committed to supplying schools with dating violence awareness materials.

Participants will learn foundational knowledge about dating abuse, methods for intervention and instruction on how to implement a Healthy Relationships 101 session with their students or youth group. Using pop culture and media clips that are familiar to teens, the workshops will include discussions to help teens recognize abuse and become critical thinkers on how these images can affect teens’ views on healthy relationships.

Registration information can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.

Workshop attendees will hear from Jasmine Uribe and Sarah Colomé.

Uribe is a leader in the dating abuse prevention movement and serves as leadership and engagement manager for Break the Cycle, which includes overseeing Loveisrespect with the National Youth Advisory Board.

Colomé manages and implements all major projects and initiatives within Break the Cycle's Training and Technical Assistance Program, as well as provides technical assistance to grant recipients for the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Full workshop schedule details:

Feb. 22
Southwest Educational Service Cooperative
2502 South Main
Hope, AR 71801

Feb. 23
Little Rock School District Instructional Resource Center
3001 South Pulaski St.
Little Rock, AR 72206

March 29
Northwest Educational Service Cooperative
4 Double Springs Road
Farmington, AR 72730

March 30
Southeast Arkansas Educational Service Cooperative
1022 Scogin Drive
Monticello, AR 71655

March 31
Crowley’s Ridge Educational Service Cooperative
1606 Pine Grove Lane
Harrisburg, AR 72432

For more information, please contact the Attorney General’s office at (501) 682-2007.

 

02/05/16

Rutledge Welcomes Spring Law Clerks to the Attorney General’s Office
Says they are ‘gaining valuable experience’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed a new class of law clerks to the Attorney General’s office. These law students work in various departments assisting with legal research and drafting memos and legal documents.

“This group of future attorneys is gaining valuable experience from some of Arkansas’s top lawyers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “They are getting exposure to the public service sector, and are a valuable asset to the Attorney General’s office.”

Anna Baker, a third year student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001, with a degree in German, and in 2008 she graduated from the University of Virginia with a doctorate in German literature. Baker is from Los Altos, California, and graduated high school from Gunn High School in 1997.

Amelia Fuller, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. She graduated from Arkansas State University, with a degree in English. Fuller is from Hot Springs and graduated from Lake Hamilton High School in 2010.

Tramisha Harris, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. She graduated from Louisiana State University Shreveport in 2010, with a degree in political science, and in 2012 she graduated from Louisiana State University at Monroe with a master’s degree in communications. Harris is from Bossier City, Louisiana, and graduated from Airline High School in 2006.

Austin Harrison, a third year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He is also a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2013, with a degree in public policy leadership. Harrison is from Louisville, Mississippi, and graduated from Winston Academy in 2009.

Kolton Jones, a third year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. He graduated from Henderson State University in 2012, with a degree in business administration. Jones is from Sulphur Springs, Texas, and graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 2009.

Stephanie Mantell, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She graduated from UALR in 2013, with double majors in history and English. Mantell is from Waterloo, New York, went to Minutemen Regional Vocational High School, in Lexington, Massachusetts, and received her GED in 2004.

Garrett Morgan, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. He graduated from UALR in 2014, with double majors in criminal justice and philosophy. Morgan is from El Dorado and graduated from Parkers Chapel High School in 2005.

Reece Owens, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2011, with a degree in economics. Owens is from Cabot and graduated from Cabot High School in 2006.

Jeremy Wann, a second year student at the UALR Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. He graduated from Webster University in 2014 with a Master of Business Administration and from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in 2009 with a degree in marketing. Wann is from Fort Smith and graduated from Roland High School in Roland, Oklahoma, in 2005.
 

 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge | 323 Center Street, Suite 200 | Little Rock, AR 72201 | 501-682-2007
www.arkansasag.gov | oag@arkansasag.gov