SCAM ALERT: Is it REALLY the AG office calling?

Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK – Unsolicited telephone calls can be annoying to Arkansas consumers, especially if the calls are from a business or marketing company trying to sell products or services that consumers do not want or need.

But what about when the telephone rings and it appears to be someone calling from a state agency, or even the Attorney General’s Office. Often times, consumers will listen and seek to comply with whatever the state agency needs from them.

Recently, the Attorney General’s Office has learned that scamming debt collectors are posing as the very state agencies that go after them, including the Attorney General’s Office.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to warn Arkansans about this new scam and to offer tips on how best to avoid falling victim.

“As the State’s chief consumer advocate, this scam which claims my office is after consumers is extremely disturbing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If an Arkansan receives one of these types of calls and they are suspicious of what they are being asked to do, then hang up and make a call directly to the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or state agency to verify the validity of the request. The Attorney General’s Office would never make such a call.”

Consumers should not be fooled into sending money to these threatening con artists or providing them with any personal or financial information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information. Receiving an uninitiated phone call that demands any of this information should immediately raise red flags.

Consumers should keep the following tips in mind to avoid this scam:

The Attorney General, the congressional delegation, law enforcement or any federal or state agency do not work on behalf of third-party collectors or threaten arrest for unpaid debts.
None of the above mentioned agencies seek or accept a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
If a consumer owes money, legitimate collectors must send a written validation notice.
Do not confirm or provide personal or financial information over the phone or Internet.

Keep in mind that con artists do not follow the law anyway, so they disregard the do not call registry regularly. Technological advances allow for Caller ID spoofing, so that scammers can disguise the source of the call to evade prosecution.

When answering a suspicious, unwanted call, consumers should write down as much information as they can about the caller, including the name of the person calling, where they purport to be calling from and the phone number. Then, consumers should notify the Attorney General’s Office if they believe themselves to be victims of a scam.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is (800) 482-8982, or consumers may visit the Attorney General’s website at www.ArkansasAG.gov.

To report violations to the Federal Trade Commission visit www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call (888) 225-5322.

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