While social distancing, Arkansans have been taking precautions and staying at home, which means more time spent online. As a result, scam artists are using tactics to extort money from Arkansans by threatening to release compromising photos, according to a news release from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

To dupe the recipient of an extortion email, the scammer may print the consumer’s email password or use high-pressure tactics to get them to pay right away. These actions are not only a scam, but also a criminal offense, the release.

“Criminals are using old or similar passwords to illegally extort Arkansans into sending large sums of money to scam artists,” Rutledge said. “Anyone threatening or using high-pressure tactics to force payment is perpetrating a scam, and any Arkansan receiving such communications should cease contact immediately with the scammer and call my office.”

Rutledge, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has provided these tips for Arkansans using the internet while social distancing:

• Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals.

• Monitor bank account statements regularly and credit reports at least once a year for any unusual activity.

• Do not respond to unsolicited email senders or click on phishing links, outdated information or give personal information through email.

• Do not store sensitive information online or on mobile devices.

• Use strong passwords containing numbers and symbols, and do not use the same password for multiple websites.

• Never provide personal information of any sort via email. Be aware that many emails requesting personal information appear to be legitimate.

• Ensure security settings for social media accounts are activated and set at the highest level of protection.

• Verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type the address into the browser for greater protection.

For more information, or if Arkansans believe they have been victims of criminal extortion, file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov or contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at 800-482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.