(Source: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel) - LITTLE ROCK – Con artists are consistently seeking ways to separate consumers from their money. Each year, the Attorney General’s Office deals with hundreds of complaints regarding attempts by scammers to prey upon Arkansas consumers.
Unfortunately, a few types of scams are fairly common and con artists frequently employ the same tactics to reach their illegal goals.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today issued this special consumer alert to inform Arkansans of the top five scams that hit Arkansas in 2012, and to offer advice on how to avoid falling victim to scammers.
“Arkansas consumers can prevent being a victim of a scam by knowing a scammer’s methods and being willing to hold off on any decisions if they are suspicious of a person’s intent,” McDaniel said. “By questioning the legitimacy of deals that sound too good to be true, or by researching offers online, consumers can avoid a scammer’s bad intentions.”
McDaniel said the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office is available to answer questions and provide assistance to Arkansas consumers who believe they are victims of a scam or attempted scam. The division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, also contains useful information on a variety of common scams.
Here are the five most common scams to affect Arkansas consumers, as reported to the Attorney General’s Office.
CREDIT CARD CALLS: Arkansas consumers have been inundated with automated, prerecorded calls from companies offering to lower interest rates on credit cards. The problem is that such offers carry a price, but no good result for cardholders. McDaniel in August filed a federal lawsuit against five such companies for their actions and their illegal calls to consumers, known as robocalls. Some companies assessed a fee to consumers, but never worked to lower interest rates. Others transferred existing credit card debt to a new card with an interest rate that was only temporarily lower, but then was at the same level or higher than previous interest rates. The suits are pending.
“FAVORITE” GRANDCHILD: The most common version of this prevalent scam involves con artists who call consumers and purport to be a grandchild or friend of a grandchild in dire need of money. They often say the grandchild has been in an accident, has been arrested or is in some sort of immediate danger and needs monetary help from the relative. They ask the relative to make a wire transfer of money, usually to another country. McDaniel advised consumers never to wire money outside the United States and, in the case of this scam, check with other relatives to see whether there is a real emergency.
PAYDAY LOAN COLLECTOR: In this scam that has plagued dozens of Arkansas businesses and their employees, con artists based in India make repeated phone calls to a consumer’s workplace in an effort to extort money from the consumer, claiming that he or she owes payments on an overdue payday loan. The consumer most likely had previously applied for a payday loan, and his or her loan application with contact phone numbers was eventually sold to the scammers. McDaniel suggested that victims of this scam request verification of the debt, and then contact the Attorney General’s Office. Contrary to the scammers’ threats, victims do not face the possibility of jail time.
INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY: “Winners” in an international lottery are asked to wire money, typically to a foreign country, to pay a processing fee for lottery winnings that never arrive. One frequently used version of the international lottery scam involves callers from a telephone number based in Jamaica informing consumers that they’ve won new cars, which are about to be delivered to their homes, but only if the “winners” first wire money to pay for taxes and processing fees. Consumers should be aware that legitimate sweepstakes or lotteries do not make unsolicited phone calls to winners, nor do winners typically have to pay money to receive money.
TECH SUPPORT: Consumers in Arkansas reported receiving calls from scammers purporting to be from Microsoft, offering to fix a nonexistent computer problem. The con artists may trick consumers into installing malicious software, or the scammers may take control of the computer remotely. Sometimes, the con artists will request credit card information or direct consumers to phony websites so that they can capture sensitive financial data. Microsoft informs consumers that it will never make calls to seek payment for computer repairs.
For more information about the five most common scams, as well as other scams, fraud and consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call (800) 482-8982.