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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Mystery Shopper Scam Can Steal Money

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Mystery Shopper Scam Can Steal Money

Wed, Dec 12, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – During the holiday season, scammers are targeting Arkansans who may be looking to make some extra money. These con artists often use the so-called mystery shopper scam to take Arkansans’ hard-earned money, with the promise of getting more in return.

“Mystery shopping is a legitimate opportunity that retailers use to evaluate their services,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Although this scam has different variations, becoming a mystery shopper does not cost anything upfront, and retailers will not contact potential mystery shoppers on an unsolicited basis. Arkansans should be wary of any organization asking for money prior to making mystery shopper work assignments and should ignore mystery shopper checks and instructions asking the consumer to deposit the money, purchase gift cards, and then send all or a portion to a third party.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following list from the Federal Trade Commission of red flags that a mystery shopping opportunity may not be legitimate:

  • The opportunity is advertised in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.
  • The business requires “certification” to be purchased ahead of time.
  • A mystery shopper job is guaranteed.
  • A website charges a fee to access mystery shopping opportunities.
  • A directory of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for purchase.
  • The seller asks to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money to a third party.

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association offers a database search of mystery shopper assignments and how to apply for them. The organization offers certification programs for a fee, but the certification is not needed to look or apply for assignments in the database.

Arkansans should avoid wiring money to strangers or anyone outside the country and should never send prepaid gift cards or give the serial number of a loaded gift card based on any unsolicited phone call.

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.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Data Breaches Put Arkansans at Risk

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Data Breaches Put Arkansans at Risk

Wed, Dec 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Marriott and the United States Postal Service are just two of the recent companies that have announced data breaches, putting private consumer information at risk. The Attorney General’s Office has received a number of calls from concerned Arkansans, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge encourages Arkansans who feel their information may have been compromised to contact the office at ArkansasAG.gov.

“Arkansans’ identities have been put at risk due to these data breaches,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge anyone with questions, or anyone who has been notified that your information was compromised, to please contact my office because I am here to do the fighting for you.”

Identity theft becomes a major concern following data breaches whether consumers utilize computers directly or not. Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized individual uses another person’s information to commit fraud or other crimes, most commonly to obtain access to credit in the victim’s name. If successful, scammers can severely damage the victim’s credit and steal his or her hard-earned money.

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help Arkansans recognize when they might be a victim of identity theft:

  • Receiving unexpected bills or collection calls. Getting an account statement for an unauthorized account is an indication that an individual may be the victim of identity theft. Likewise, getting collection calls from a creditor or debt collector regarding an unauthorized account is an indication of potential identity theft.
  • Not receiving expected bills or account statements. If a monthly credit card statement stops, this could be an indication that someone has stolen mail or changed an account statement mailing address. Promptly report this to the account provider.
  • Having a credit application denied when there is no reason to believe there is a problem with the credit history. Be sure to periodically review the credit report, and always review it again before making an application for credit on a big purchase.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, close accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently opened, and file a complaint with the FTC. The Attorney General’s office also offers an ID Theft Passport to help victims reestablish their good name, which requires that consumers first file a police report for financial identity theft.

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.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Secret Santa Scam Returns

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Secret Santa Scam Returns

Wed, Nov 28, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans should be weary of the Secret Santa, or Secret Sister, scam making its way across social media once again this year. The scam requests other users send relatively inexpensive gifts to others, in exchange for the promise of receiving gifts. At the very least, participants will send gifts without getting anything in return. At worst, scammers use personal information posted on social media to participate, often leading to identity theft.

“The Secret Santa scam often starts with a scammer posting a request for friends to participate, which is then innocently shared and re-posted over and over by linked friends,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “But this innocent request can be a dangerous scam and open Arkansans up to identity theft.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers to avoid this holiday scam:

  • Consumers should never disclose their personal information to an unknown entity unless they know it to be a trusted source as such disclosures could result in identity theft or the opening of other accounts in their name.
  • It is unlikely that a consumer will actually receive gifts in response to such a scheme; thus, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Consult the terms of use for Facebook and other forms of social media as they may prohibit schemes like this one.
  • Review guidance available from the U.S. Postal Service because it may be illegal.
  • Consumers should safeguard their banking and personal, financial information in order to prevent financial losses due to scams.
  • When using the internet, consumers should ensure that they are using a verified, secure, and encrypted website when sharing any personal or financial information online.

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.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Avoid At-Home Dangers During the Holiday Season

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Avoid At-Home Dangers During the Holiday Season

Wed, Nov 21, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Decking the halls for the upcoming holiday season can quickly become dangerous. If Arkansans do not use extreme caution, injuries can easily occur. Caution and planning can help avoid unnecessary accidents and injuries, which can interrupt holiday fun.

“It is important that we make personal safety a priority, even during the happy holiday planning,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Accidents happen, but many are preventable. Small mistakes that we may consider insignificant, can lead to dangerous problems through carelessness. Most accidents are avoidable by taking extra time during preparations.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for Arkansans planning to hang lights this holiday season:

  • Select lights with labels indicating they have been safety tested by independent laboratories.
  • Check each set of lights. Look for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard or repair them, if necessary, before use.
  • When using lights outdoors, make sure they are certified for outdoor use and are securely fastened to protect against damaging winds.
  • Only use insulated staples or hoods to affix lights. Never use nails or tacks.
  • Do not use more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord, and ensure that each extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Always turn off or unplug lights when you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Never leave a candle unattended and keep them on a stable surface and away from items that can burn easily, like trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 14,500 emergency room visits for falls, lacerations and back strains while decorating for the holidays. Meanwhile, fires are also a concern with burning candles and fresh Christmas trees that are not properly watered.

Use caution when climbing ladders and make sure all locks are properly engaged, keep your body near the middle of the step and face the ladder while climbing. Avoid using the top step of the ladder unless it was designed of that purpose.

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.

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AG ALERT: Beware of Holiday Season Scam Artists Using Legitimate-Sounding Charity Names

AG ALERT: Beware of Holiday Season Scam Artists Using Legitimate-Sounding Charity Names

Wed, Nov 14, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – The holidays bring out the best in Arkansans, but there are some who try to take advantage of our kind hearts by posing as a charitable organization helping Arkansans during the holiday season. Scam artists can use similar-sounding names to legitimate charities and may often be pushy, but provide little information.

“Arkansans are known for generosity during the holiday season," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “While Giving Tuesday is a big day for donations, we know Americans often give more than on just one allotted day. Leading up to the season of giving, it is important for each of us to thoroughly research where we send our money to ensure that it is helping the most people possible.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers give to only legitimate charities:

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

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ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Protect Your Identity While Online Shopping

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: Protect Your Identity While Online Shopping

Wed, Nov 7, 2018

LITTLE ROCK – Every year, countless American shoppers fall victim to identity thieves by not following a few simple rules while shopping online. Arkansans need to keep track of purchases and a watchful eye on bank and credit card statements to ensure transactions are legitimate.

“Arkansans need to remain guarded when it comes to protecting personal and financial information,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals often have us all shopping online more, but predatory scam artists are ready and waiting for an opportunity to steal your money.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of consumers cited online shopping as the most popular shopping destination this year. They also expect holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent over last year. That means consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,007.24 this year on gifts.

Also, research companies before finalizing the online purchase to ensure it is a credible merchant, and check the anticipated delivery date to make sure it will be delivered in time for the holidays.

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.

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