Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ROBOCALLS- Try to Spoof You

We seem to get them all the time. The phone rings, we answer it, and a recording makes an offer or tells us we have won something and tells us to call a phone number. We are firmly in the era of “robocalls.”

Some robocalls are legal if they are from political candidates running for office or from charities asking for donations. But if they are selling something, and they do not have your written permission, then the call is illegal. Many illegal robocalls are scams.

Since the beginning of the year, there has been a dramatic increase in robocalls. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) attributes the increase to technology. And, scammers have adopted a new technique to trick you into answering the call.

Called neighbor spoofing, the scammers have programmed their computerized robocall systems to show a phone number like yours on your caller ID. It’s designed to make you think that a neighbor or a local business is calling you. The area code and prefix might be the same as yours with different last four digits.

The FTC suggests that if you receive a robocall, hang up. Often there is a selection to talk to an agent or to be taken off their call list. Do not select any options that the robocall might give you. You might be added to a list, often called a “suckers list,” that tells the scammer, and any other scammers who have purchased your phone number, that you are an easy mark.

The FTC also suggests that you contact your phone provider and ask them to block the number. Some providers might charge for this service. Also report the robocall to the FTC online at or by phone at (888) 382-1222.

Federal Trade Commission:

For an interesting insight to robocalling, check out this podcast episode. Warning, there is some offensive language.

NPR Planet Monday Episode 789:

Monday, August 21, 2017

ATM SKIMMERS- Some Take Advantage of Bluetooth Technology

Police agencies have been warning the public about skimmers at ATM’s and gas stations for some time. Skimmers allow crooks to collect your account information from your credit or debit card.

Much of the advice in avoiding becoming a victim of this technique has included:

·         Look over the ATM or gas pump for any signs of tampering.

·         Grab the slot where you insert your card to see if it is loose.

·         At a gas station, try to use the pump nearest the attendant’s station on the theory that ID thieves would install skimmers furthest away from easy view.

New technology may have added another technique that you can use to ensure the safety of your information. For the last few years, ID thieves who have been using skimmers have added Bluetooth technology to their equipment. This is the same technology that is used to allow you to talk hands free on your cell phone or listen to music on a wireless speaker. Bluetooth allows them to swing by and download the information from the device to their laptop, tablet or cell phone. The range for Bluetooth devices is only about 30 feet. But someone can fill up their tank and surreptitiously collect the information without raising suspicions of people around them.

How can Bluetooth help you? When you pull up to a gas pump or approach an ATM, pull out your smartphone, go to the Bluetooth area of settings and look at the list of devices. If you see a device in the list with a long string of numbers and/or letters it is probably a skimmer. Tell the attendant, store employee or the bank that the ATM belongs to.

For more about skimmers go to,

Federal Trade Commission:


KSAT12, San Antonio, TX:


Cisco Blogs:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Car Prowls are Up

This morning the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning via Twitter and Facebook that car prowls are up in the county. While not providing specifics, it pointed out that car prowlers like to target cars parked at trailheads, parks, and beaches.

For some time, local police agencies have been encouraging drivers to not leave anything in view when they park their vehicles. The thinking is that car prowlers will break into a vehicle if they see anything inside and will not if there is nothing in view.

Car prowlers will take anything, but a bonus is when they can take a purse or wallet. They can spend the cash and conduct ID theft with credit cards and checks. If you do find that someone has stolen your credit cards or checkbook, you need to act to protect yourself from further theft. For guidance on what to do check out this link,

Identity theft Resource Center:

Here is how you can prevent car prowls,

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Crime Prevention Newsletter Talks About Transit Unit

Many Snohomish County citizens use buses, trains, and vanpools to commute to work or get around. This issue of “Partners in Crime Prevention” concentrates on the Sheriff’s Office’s Transit Police Unit and how it helps prevent crime in the bus system in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Thursday, August 10, 2017


According to Microsoft, tech support scammers are adding email to their techniques in taking money from their victims. Sending phishing emails allows scammers to cast a wider net to contact victims. The emails act much like typical phishing emails using social engineering to fool a victim into clicking on a link or an attachment that installs malware or takes the victim to a website that installs malware or asks for personal information. The difference, so far, is that the tech support scam email has links that takes the victim to a web page that tries to scare them into calling a hot line where they can be convinced to pay for unnecessary tech support.

Other techniques that tech support scammers use include:

·         Ads on sketchy web pages that direct the victim to tech support scam web sites.

·         Malware that displays fake error messages that try to scare the victim into calling a hotline.

·         Many tech support scammers use cold calls to contact victims, claiming to be from Microsoft, and trying to scare victims into purchasing unnecessary tech help.
For more details about the recent tech support scam trends go to,


SCAM UPDATE- Scholarship Scam

Scammers also target college students looking for scholarships. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

·         Know who you are dealing with.

·         Beware of search services that guarantee you will receive scholarship money.

·         Get the details in writing.

·         Make sure you understand the refund policy.

·         Do your own scholarship search.

SCAM UPDATE- Grandparents Scam

You have heard about the Grandparents Scam. You may have even received a call claiming that a grandchild or other relative is in some sort of trouble and needs money right away to get out of it.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been warning consumers about a new twist to this scam. You receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild or young relative. They talk to you for a short time then hand you over to their “attorney” who tells you to pay cash for bail inside a magazine that turns out to be an empty house with an unattended mailbox.


·         Never send cash through the mail.

·         Contact your loved one separately before sending any money.

·         Report the incident to the Sheriff’s Office via the non-emergency number (425) 407-3999 and to the FTC at