Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SCAM UPDATE– “Tech Support” Scam

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is warning the public about a scam that has been making the rounds in Washington State that claims to help computer owners about alleged computer problems.

The scammers “cold call” phone numbers to find victims. When someone answers, the scammers claim to be from a legitimate computer business and claim that they have detected problems with the homeowner’s computer such as viruses and malware. The scammers will use technical language to try to gain trust. They asked the homeowner to perform a series of tasks that in reality allows them access to the computer and the personal data stored in it. They may also install malware that can take personal information on the computer.

The scammers will demand payment to fix the alleged problems. They will accept credit card payments over the phone or will demand payment via Western Union or Money Gram. They also may direct victims to fraudulent websites that collect personal and financial information.

To avoid becoming a victim, the Attorney General’s Office recommends:

·         Never give control of your computer to someone who calls you;
·         Be vigilant in safeguarding personal information;
·         Never give out passwords;
·         Protect personal computers  with legitimate and updated security software;
·         Do not provide SSNs, banking, or credit card or other financial information to anyone who calls, no matter who they say they are; and
·         Simply hang-up if someone calls you with this scheme!
If you are victimized:
·         Have a reputable computer technician remove any software that may have been added by the scammers;
·         Change your passwords;
·         Contact your financial institution; and
·         Monitor bank and credit card account activity.

The Attorney General’s Office encourages anyone who receives a tech support scamming call to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at

Note: This is not a new scam. I have even received phone calls, in the past, claiming to be from “Microsoft Tech Support” wanting to help me with problems with my computer. I hung up. You should hang up also.

For more information about this scam, go to:


Washington State Attorney General’s Office:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE- National Spotlight on Domestic Violence

The national news about the incident between National Football League player Ray Rice, whose contract was terminated Monday by his team the Baltimore Ravens, puts the focus on domestic violence. Domestic violence does not get a lot of press except when it involves national figures such as sports stars or movie stars.

However, domestic violence occurs every day within our communities. It is something that usually does not become common knowledge, but its affects can be devastating to family and friends.

Following are two articles that provide some insights into domestic violence:

The Seattle Times-

Ray Rice case puts domestic abuse under the spotlight


A Teachable Moment From Ray Rice’s Domestic Abuse


If you are a victim of domestic violence, or if you know someone who is a victim, Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County can help:


MAYS POND– Coyote Sightings

The Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for Mays Pond reports that in the last few weeks, there have been at least three sightings of coyotes in the Mays Pond and Mill Creek areas.

While South Snohomish County has become built up in the last few decades, we still have wildlife living among us. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides information about a variety of wildlife to educate the public. For more information about coyotes you can go to:

Sometimes a wild animal may be considered to be a nuisance. Here is some information about how the Fish and Wildlife Department handles these animals:

The Fish and Wildlife Department recommends taking the following actions to discourage coyotes in your neighborhood:

  • Keep a close watch on your younger children, especially when there have been sightings of coyotes in your area.
  • Never feed coyotes.
  • Secure your garbage can so that coyotes, and other animals, do not have access to it.
  • Feed your pet dogs and cats indoors.
  • Don’t feed feral cats.
  • Keep your pet dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CAR THEFTS– Technology Helps Keep Thefts Down

Recently, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its list of most stolen cars in America. It noted that, nationwide, the number of cars stolen has been reduced over the last twenty years due to security measures built into new cars. The majority of cars that are stolen are older cars that do not have the modern security technology that was introduced in the late 1990’s.

One measure is located in your car key. Modern keys are coded to match your car. When you put your key in the ignition switch, the car looks for that code. If you have the right code, your car will start. Without the correct code it won’t start. This defeats hot wiring, common keys and other methods that car thieves traditionally used to steal cars.

According to a NPR interview with NICB vice president Roger Morris, most modern day thefts occur because drivers leave their doors unlocked, with the keys in the car. Another common scenario is the driver parking their car at a convenience store and running in to buy something. Having left the keys in the car, they are just going to be there a short time; a thief easily takes the car away. A winter scenario in the Puget Sound region is a driver starting the car in the driveway on a cold morning at home to warm up while they get ready for work. A thief jumps in to drive the car away.

So the human is the weak link. Lock your doors and take your keys with you!





Monday, August 25, 2014

PASSWORDS– Ways to Make Them Stronger

Passwords are a pain. But until someone comes up with another method to determine that you are who you say you are, that is generally accepted, passwords are probably the best way to keep your important information safe.

You may have seen recommendations for “strong” passwords. But just what makes a password strong. Here are a few hints:

Make your password long. Eight characters is the minimum. 14 characters is better. 25 is better yet. Where you can, make your password longer than shorter.
    1. Make your password long. Eight characters is the minimum. 14 characters is better. 25 is better yet. Where you can, make your password longer than shorter.
    2. Use a combination of letters and numbers. Letters, numbers, upper case, lower case and symbols make your password harder to crack.
    3. Avoid words that are in dictionaries. Embed numbers and symbols in a word. Or think of a sentence or series of words that have meaning to you, and use the first letter of each word as your password.
    4. Substitute characters. For example, for the letter “O” use the number zero (0). For “S” use the dollar sign ($).
    5. Avoid easy-to-guess words. Such as your name, company name, hometown, pets’ names. Avoid your birthday or ZIP code. Also, avoid the word “password” or consecutive letters or numerals such as 1234 or “qwerty.”
    6. Never reuse passwords on other accounts. An exception may be an account that does not have your credit card or bank account numbers or other personal information such as a newspaper website.
    7. If offered, consider using an option of using two passwords. Gmail offers this when you use a particular computer or device for the first time. With this feature, the service will send a text message to your phone with a code when you try to use the service for the first time from an unrecognized device. You then enter the code from the new device to gain access. The code then expires.

While these measures seem like a hassle, they make it harder for hackers to guess your passwords and gain access to your private information.

The Seattle Times-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EVERETT– ID Thieves from Florida Strike the Northwest

The Herald recently published an interesting article about a gang of Florida-based ID thieves who conducted a series of ID thefts in Snohomish County.

The gang is called the Felony Lane Gang. It often drives up to banks using the farthest outside drive up lane to pass checks using false identities. The gang believes that using an outside lane makes them less visible to tellers and surveillance cameras.
The gang was in the area last fall. Several police agencies, including the FBI, and the Everett, Mill Creek and Bothell police departments are conducting investigations based on crimes by this gang. Snohomish County prosecutors have filed felony charges against one gang member who is from Hollywood, Florida.

The gang typically targets park, ball field, community center, gym and day-care center parking lots. These are locations where many people will leave their wallets and purses in their cars.
In a September 2013 case, a Mukilteo woman’s driver’s license was stolen as she dropped off her children at a day-care center. Afterward, someone withdrew $2,400 from her bank. Then, her name and identification were used to cash a $3,407 check from another person’s account at an Everett credit union. The second victim’s checkbook was stolen from the University of Washington hospital.

In a Pierce County case, someone stole a woman’s driver’s license, Social Security card, checkbook and seven credit cards after breaking into her car parked at a YMCA in Gig Harbor. That same day, members of the gang allegedly cashed two checks, one for $990 the other for $996 on the woman’s account at two banks within a 45-minute period. The following day, they cashed a man’s stolen checks making them payable to the woman whose identification that been stolen. The checks were cashed at three banks in a one-hour period totaling almost $3,000.
Deputies and crime prevention professionals often counsel the public not to keep anything visible in their parked vehicles. The way this gang operates should reinforce that advice. They look for easy targets where car drivers have left their wallets or purses un- attended. They look for those targets in places where drivers are most likely to leave those items in their cars. Often victims will run into a convenience store or day-care center for “just a minute” only to return to their car to find their wallet or purse stolen.

While this gang has apparently left the Puget Sound region, others use similar methods to steal people’s identities from their cars.
The article quotes Mukilteo detective Nicole Stone as warning:

‘ “Never leave your purse or wallet in your car,” she said. “I don't care if it's locked, unlocked or even if you have a car alarm. It only takes seconds.” ‘
For more details about this gang, go to:

The Herald-

Monday, August 18, 2014

MONROE– Meetings About Drugs Along the Highway 2 Corridor

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation recently sponsored two meetings concerning drug use along the Highway 2 corridor. The meetings were held at the Snohomish Library and the Monroe Library where panelists from local law enforcement agencies and social service agencies took questions from the audience about drugs and drug use.

Panelists at the Monroe meeting included:

During the Monroe meeting, held on Thursday August 14 at the Monroe Library, the following points were brought out:

  • Drug addiction often fosters crime to feed the drug habit. Currently, Organized Retail Crime and EBT theft are crimes that are taking the lead. But often, burglaries and car prowls are also motivated by a drug addiction.
  • Kids want to believe that there are good drugs and bad drugs. The best way to view drugs is their danger to be addictive. It is the addiction that causes problems for an individual’s body and to society.
  • Most youth begin using drugs in 7th or 8th grade.
  • Youth may be using marijuana more thinking that now that it is legal for adults, it is Ok for them to use also. While the statistics are not in yet, most of the panelists expect the use of marijuana by teens to rise. Also, in Colorado, crime in general has decreased, but DUI’s have increased.
  • It’s important to start talking to your children when they are young about what is safe and not safe to ingest into their bodies. It’s important to reinforce these messages throughout their youth.
  • Most panelists observed that youth get their start with drugs by using marijuana. Other “gateway” drugs can also include hookah pipes, alcohol and prescription drugs.
  • Heroin and meth continue to be popular with addicts. The majority of production of meth is no longer from backyards or local producers. Mexican gangs have taken over production and distribution. Heroin, which can be smoked or injected, has been seen as a cheaper choice after a change in the formula to oxycontin.
  • Mental illness can be a “co-occurring issue” with drug addiction. Depression can be a big problem with teens who look to drugs to feel better.
  • Some signs to look for in your child are changes in behavior, changes in friends or grades. One panelist suggested being aware of how your child smells.
  • One member of the audience asked why the epidemic is happening in Monroe and Snohomish. Detective Chitwood pointed out that the “epidemic” is all over Snohomish County. The people in Snohomish and Monroe are talking about it. Other panelists pointed out that the whole community needs to be involved (law enforcement, schools, social services, medical, and parents) to reduce drug addiction.
The Sno-Isle Libraries has created a web page,, about this subject as part of their Issues that Matter series. You can find a listing of books on different aspects of drug addiction as well as links to web sites that talk about addiction. Also, on Twitter, you can find the live tweets for this meeting by searching for #snoisleITM.