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Officials warn of scams

Officials are warning consumers of a few scams in the area.

At last week’s Clinton City Council meeting, Police Chief Toney Parish said a business that has been asked to leave in the past is operating in town again. He said the business claims to fix driveways and do other paving jobs.

He said the company does shoddy work and will not respond to complaints. Zoning official Dwight Wilson said the company also lacks proper permits to operate in the city limits.

Anyone needing asphalt work should look into the background of any company they are considering hiring before paying them money.

In another scam, the Baxter County sheriff’s office said it has had reports of telephone scams involving fraudulent claims that the recipient of the call has won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes.

In each incident, the caller claims the person has won $250,000 and is asked to either meet another person and pay him a processing fee ranging from $375 to $550 in cash, or to conduct some kind of cash transaction or transfer through a local store.

These calls are coming from area code 876, which is a foreign area code assigned to Jamaica, and the caller has a muffled voice that is difficult to understand, according to a news release from the Baxter County sheriff.

The sheriff’s office reminds everyone not to confirm or release any personal information whatsoever, including verifying name, address, or any other identifying information. Scammers can be very persistent and call back numerous times trying to convince the potential victim that the call is legitimate. In addition, persons should not try to return a call to the 876 area code, because doing so may result in significant additional charges to their telephone bill.

In a third report the state Attorney General’s office said Arkansas consumers are being targeted in a scheme that preys on hopes for a break from high utility bills during the sweltering summer months. Many Arkansans have received word in the past few days of a government “stimulus” program that will apply credits to utility bills.

Arkansas consumers have been targeted by the widespread scam that offers financial aid from the president or federal government through automated phone calls, text messages and social media.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued the consumer alert to make sure consumers know to avoid the scam and that no credits are being applied to utility bills as a result of this bogus program. In fact, although the scammers purport to offer money, they may be attempting to find ways to take money from unsuspecting consumers.
“Consumers should be aware there is no such ‘stimulus’ program for utility bill payments and they should avoid these types of calls and solicitations,” McDaniel said. “We would also warn Arkansans to never give out any personal or financial information, such as a bank account numbers or Social Security numbers, to unknown callers, whether it is related to this or any other issue.”
Investigators with McDaniel’s Consumer Protection Division are trying to determine whether the scam is being used as a means for identity theft or financial fraud. So far, the division has no reports of criminal activity in the state directly related to the scam.
Additionally, McDaniel said consumers should not confuse this scam with a legitimate federal program aimed toward helping low- and moderate-income Americans defray their heating and cooling costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been in place for more than three decades and is operated in Arkansas by 16 nonprofit community action agencies. Eligible participants must apply for the program, in person, and in writing.
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