NewsEvents

Rutledge Applauds SCOTUS Decision Upholding Protections for Consumers Receiving Robocalls

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 which prohibits robocalls to cell phones. The Court also ruled that an exception in the TCPA that exclusively allowed robocalls from federal government debt collectors was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

“The Supreme Court wisely ruled to protect consumers by upholding federal robocalls protections for Americans.” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans are fed up with these annoying calls and through my work with the legislature and the Federal Communication Commission, this decision brings us one step closer to permanently hanging up on robocalls.”

July is Military Consumer Protection Month

Rutledge to offer free identity theft webcasts for veterans

LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists will use every trick in the book to take advantage of Americans and no one is immune, even our military service members. July is Military Consumer Month and aims to educate military families about potential deceptive practices that specifically target these families and their unique circumstances. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 3.2 million reports nationwide, with nearly 650,000 of those complaints categorized as imposter scams.

“It is shocking that there are people in this world that will take advantage of our service members and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “With such a large military population living in Arkansas, we must use every resource to educate and protect our service members, veterans and their families from experiencing fraud at the hands of con artists.”

Rutledge is offering free webcasts that can assist veterans with consumer protection and how to avoid common scams and identity theft, Wednesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 29.

In 2015, Rutledge launched the Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s Office to assist active duty military, reservists and veterans with consumer-related issues, veterans courts, the Hiring Heroes program and many other collaborative efforts.

Attorney General Rutledge shared the following list from the Federal Trade Commission of the most common complaints filed by service members in Arkansas in 2020 to present day.

  • Identity Theft – 2,210 complaints filed
  • Credit Bureaus, Info Furnishers and Report Users – 1,016 complaints filed
  • Imposter Scams – 458 complaints filed
  • Telephone and Mobile Services – 365 complaints filed
  • Online Shopping and Negative Reviews – 260 complaints filed
  • Banks and Lenders – 238 complaints filed
  • Debt Collection – 233 complaints filed
  • Auto Related – 153 complaints filed
  • Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries – 138 complaints filed
  • Internet Services – 127 complaints filed

Military Consumer Month is a partnership between the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Defense and other state and local organizations.

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

Rutledge Urges Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today led a bipartisan letter signed by 42 attorneys generals urging the U.S. Senate to pass S. 2563, the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act. The letter was sent to Sen. Mike Crapo, Chairman, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ranking Member, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. The ILLICIT CASH Act updates the federal framework for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, which has not been comprehensively reassessed since its inception in the 1970s. It creates new tools for information sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement. Along with that, the Act requires a covered entity to report its “beneficial owners,” the actual people who benefit from or control the entity.

“By passing the ILLICIT CASH Act, Congress would increase transparency in the American financial system,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This increased transparency would make it tougher for criminals to use shell companies to launder money from crimes like drug trafficking, terrorism and tax evasion and give law enforcement the resources they so desperately need.”

The letter led by Attorney General Rutledge recognizes that many states do not have the ability to track information on the actual people who control or benefit from corporations and other entities doing business there. Without that information, states cannot know if an entity is a shell for concealing the illicit proceeds of criminals like drug traffickers, terrorist financiers, tax evaders and corrupt government officials.

Under the ILLICIT CASH Act, certain business entities will have to disclose a “beneficial owner” to the federal government. A beneficial owner is a “natural person” who controls an entity, owns at least 25% of it, or receives economic benefits from it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) will then keep all the disclosed beneficial ownership information in a federal registry. The Act requires FinCEN to release beneficial ownership information to law enforcement agencies, including at the local and state levels.

Rutledge led the letter with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, which was signed by attorneys general in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Rutledge’s Statement on SCOTUS Splintered Decision Ruling Against Louisiana’s Reasonable Admitting Privileges Statute

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s splintered decision narrowly ruling against Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (Act 620) which would require any physician who performs abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Reflecting the weakness of the abortion practitioners’ position, there was no majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts who provided the deciding vote explained that he had only voted to strike down Louisiana’s requirement because he believed this case was identical to an earlier case.

“Abortion is a serious medical procedure that can often have complications and, if not adequately addressed, can leave women with long-term health issues including death,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Despite today's technical decision against Louisiana’s law, the Supreme Court reaffirms common sense laws that ensure protection of women’s health and welfare.”

The Court’s decisions comes after Rutledge led a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in support of Louisiana’s case to protect the safety and welfare of women by requiring admitting privileges to all clinics located in Louisiana. The brief argued the Supreme Court should not allow abortion practitioners to challenge health and safety laws, like those in Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana and other states on behalf of women.

In March, the case, June Medical Services, LLC. v. Russo was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rutledge Allocates Over $2 Million to Department of Public Safety for Crime Victims

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today the allocation of $2.1 million from the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund to the Department of Public Safety for the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program. The funds for the program will be used by the Crime Victims Reparation Board to compensate victims and family members of victims of violent crimes as well as ensuring forensic tests can be completed.

“Life is precious and it is tragic that a program like this is necessary,” said General Rutledge. “Arkansas families need to know they will be taken care of even after a violent crime has happened to a loved one.”

“I am deeply grateful to our Attorney General for her compassion to make sure that our child and youth victims of crime get the necessary expert medical forensic exams and lab work to aid not only their legal cases, but to assure them of their well-being and wholeness to start the healing of their hearts and souls,” said Arkansas’s First Lady Susan Hutchinson.

“As a law enforcement officer, I’ve seen first-hand, the hopelessness left in the eyes of people who were victims of a criminal act and even though justice was meted out, the victims are left to rebuild their lives. All too often, these victims are our precious children,” said Secretary Jami Cook. “The Children’s Advocacy Centers provide an invaluable service in the pursuit of justice for our young victims. The compassionate allotment from Attorney General Rutledge will ensure the Crime Victims Reparations Board can help restore some small degree of hope to those who did nothing wrong.”

The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program was transferred in the Governor’s reorganization to the Department of Public Safety and was previously administered by the Office of Attorney General until 2019. The program provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or death as the result of violent crime.

For more information contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8983 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Rutledge Sues Jim Bakker for Peddling Colloidal Silver Products to Cure COVID-19

Arkansas Consumers have purchased over $60,000 on silver products for false COVID-19 cures

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit against Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show, as well as Jim Bakker and Sherrill Sellman, for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Jim Bakker has exploited Arkansas consumers by leveraging COVID-19 fears to sell over $60,000 worth of their products that do nothing to fight the virus,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”

Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.

In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.

Rutledge is seeking restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Violations of the ADTPA may be assessed with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Rutledge is urging all consumers who have purchased products from Bakker or Sellman to contact the office immediately at (800) 482- 8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

July
15
Wednesday

Military Consumer Protection Month Webcasts

July 15 and July 29
10 a.m.

As July is Military Protection Month, these webcasts will review the many ways veterans can utilize the Consumer Protection Division and how to avoid common scams and identity theft. Continuing education credit will not be available.


Register for July 15

Register for July 29
 10:00 AMVIEW 
August
6
Thursday

FOIA webcast

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
10 a.m. to noon

The webcast, which is free and open to the public, will include FOIA Made Simple presentations by attorneys in the Attorney General’s office detailing responsibilities and rights covered under the act that relate to public meetings and documents.

Two hours of CLE and CLEST credit are pending.

REGISTER

 10:00 AMVIEW 
October
6
Tuesday

Law Enforcement Summit

2018 Officers of the YearAttorney General Rutledge will offer free training sessions for law enforcement and recognize outstanding law enforcement officers from every county at the Benton Event Center.

Please check back for training and CLEST credit offerings.

The Summit is FREE, but seating is limited. For more information, contact Rachel Ellis at 501-682-3645 or rachel.ellis@arkansasag.gov.

Nominate an Officer of the Year

 8:00 AMVIEW 
November
10
Tuesday

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the ninth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers.

This is a free educational training opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Members of the general public may also attend and will have the opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment.

In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the Summit is being sponsored by the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, Arkansas State Police, Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, Office of the State Drug Director, Rotary Clubs of Arkansas, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Arkansas State Medical Board, University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock MidSouth School of Social Work.

For questions, contact Rachel Ellis at 501-682-3645 or rachel.ellis@arkansasag.gov.

 8:00 AMVIEW 
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