Friday, July 31, 2015

WINDOWS 10 UPGRADE: Scammers Already Trying to Insert Ransomware on Your Computer

According to the Associated Press, hackers are already trying to take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade to Windows 10 that began on Wednesday.

The scammers have been sending out bogus spam emails claiming to be from Microsoft. Attached to the emails are files that the emails claim to be the upgrade, but instead contain “ransomware” that locks all of the data in the infected computer and then demands payment to release the data.

Cisco Systems says that the emails are designed to look like an official Microsoft upgrade notice. However, several words have random, out-of-place letters and punctuation.

Microsoft is not upgrading older versions of Windows to Windows 10 via email! Over the past few weeks, Microsoft has installed a “Get Windows 10” app located in the tray at the bottom of the computer’s screen on computers that use Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1. It is only through this app that you can upgrade to Windows 10. If you did not get the app, go to this link for suggestions on how to get it:

Remember, Microsoft will not contact you to upgrade to Windows 10! Delete any emails that claim to be for the Windows 10 upgrade. Do not click on any links or on any attachments.




Thursday, July 30, 2015

BURGLARY PREVENTION: Study Shows Locking Your Doors is Important

According to the Seattle Times, in a short article, the Mercer Island Police Department analyzed 5 years of crime data to see how they could reduce burglaries.

Bottom line; lock your doors and windows. The Mercer Island PD’s analysis showed that in 41% of home burglaries the burglars entered the house through an unlocked door or window.

Mercer Island PD also conducted a survey of its residences to measure their motivations and barriers toward burglary prevention actions. When asked “How often does your household lock all doors when you are away?” 77% said that they always lock their doors. 23% either locked their doors most of the time, some of the time or never. When asked “What are the main reasons you don’t always lock door when you are away?” 42% said that they feel safe on Mercer Island.  33% said that they forget to check. 28% thought that it did not seem necessary if they are gone for a short time. 13% said that they were too rushed and 12% thought that it did not seem necessary to lock their doors during the day.

While it is encouraging the three quarters of the surveyed respondents always lock their doors when they leave their homes, there are enough who do not lock their doors to make it worthwhile for burglars to keep doing their thing.

Feeling safe obviously is not a prevention technique. Even in safe communities, locking your doors and windows is a prudent measure. In fact, you might argue that if everyone locked their doors, burglars would not have the opportunity to break in and steal, which is what makes your neighborhood safe. Also, remember that most residential burglaries occur during the day when both spouses are more than likely to be at work.

Taking the time to lock your doors when you leave your house might save you heartache when you come home only to find some of your things missing.

The Seattle Times:

City of Mercer Island:




Monday, July 27, 2015

CYBERCRIME: Chrysler Recalls Vehicles Due to Hackers

Last week's revelations about the ability of hackers to take control of a Jeep Cherokee demonstrates the vulnerability that we face in the new cyber-crime world. If you do not follow the news and own a Fiat Chrysler product that is on their list of recalled vehicles, you should read this WIRED article about the successful hacking,, and then contact your local Chrysler dealership to arrange for the fix. If you do not own a Chrysler vehicle, you still need to be aware of the potential for hackers to control the next new car that you buy.

Warnings of hackers taking control of new, internet connected vehicles are not new. In 2011, a team of University of Washington and University of California at San Diego researchers demonstrated the ability to hack into a sedan. Cyber security specialists have long given warnings of the mayhem that hackers could cause through Wi-Fi signals connected to new cars and trucks. It’s with last week's revelations though that makes the threat seem more real.

Andy Greenberg, a reporter for WIRED magazine drove a Jeep Cherokee down a freeway while two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, hacked into the SUV from Miller's house 10 miles away. In this prearranged demonstration, Miller and Valasek blasted cold air through the air conditioning system. Then they blasted music from a local hip hop station through the stereo system. Greenberg's efforts to turn down the music failed. Then a picture of the two hackers showed up on the SUV's digital display. Finally, the hackers put the SUV into neutral, slowing it down to a crawl.

Aside from a disgruntled employee in Austin, Texas who shut down a number of vehicles with technology meant to remind those with car loans that they need to pay, no vehicle has been hacked as yet by criminals in real life. The only hackers so far have been those who on looking for vulnerabilities have revealed their findings to the car manufacturers so that fixes can be made. An added twist to the latest hack has been that the hackers promise to talk about their research at the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on August 1 through 6. The fixes have been developed and Fiat Chrysler has announced its recall before the world knows how to hack into its vehicles.

 Other vulnerabilities have been reported that include the ability to detect the signal from your keyless remote allowing car prowlers to open your car doors and take whatever is inside. To date, this capability has not been documented by local law enforcement in Snohomish County. But the potential for anyone other than the driver opening their doors, starting their cars, controlling the heater or the entertainment system no doubt gives a chill down anyone's spine that thinks about the possibility.

The issue comes to how can this capability be prevented? Often prevention is in our hands. We can lock doors, close windows, and not keep anything visible to attract car prowlers. But sometimes we need help to prevent crime. In this case, car manufacturers need to build in the capability to block intruders from taking control of our cars.

Car manufacturers have done a good job in the past to protect cars and some of their components from theft. During the 1970's and early 1980's many cars were broken into for their stereo systems. That led to the innovation of the removable faceplate by car stereo manufacturers that discouraged theft. And eventually car manufacturers developed a system that when the stereo loses electricity, a password needs to been entered to regain its functionality. Also, car thefts have been deterred with modern key systems that emit a code to the car when placed in the ignition proving that the key belongs to the car.

If car manufacturers are going to provide capabilities that they think drivers will use or want, they need to ensure that those capabilities will not increase the vulnerability of the cars for theft or high jacking. And in the age of cybercrime, this will be a constant, day to day battle.

Awareness is always important to preventing crime. Educating yourself on the benefits as well as the vulnerabilities of new capabilities inside your new car is becoming as important as knowing about the burglary down the street. Some may say that they will only buy used cars. But those cars may not have the safety features of modern vehicles and if you buy a car of a certain age, 1990's Honda or Toyota, you may find that it is a prime candidate for theft. So keeping up with the times is not only trendy, it is essential to making decisions that help you protect yourself from crime.

One last thing, if you bought a new Chrysler product since 2013, take look that the recall list. If your car or truck is on that list, contact your Chrysler dealer for the security upgrade. It should help with your peace of mind, at least for a while.







Saturday, July 25, 2015

EVERETT: Police Looking for Information on Cash Thefts

The Everett Police Department would like your help in an investigation of thefts of cash from in front of financial institutions. Everett has seen 15 of these incidents with 22 incidents reported throughout the region. Losses amount to over $110,000 in the region.

Typically, the victims made financial transactions inside of a financial institution and then left cash in their car while they did errands in the area. Everett PD believes that the suspects followed the victims from the banks/credit unions then broke into the victim’s vehicles and stole the money. In most of the thefts, the vehicles were unoccupied. But, two female victims were told that they had flat tires. In other cases, money was stolen from a man as he helped push a vehicle that was blocking a roadway, while a female was robbed at gunpoint.

The Everett PD and the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force apprehended two suspects, Giovanny Ramirez-Pedraza from Renton and Javier Rojas-Diaz from Kent in a joint undercover operation. They believe that there may be at least one other male suspect involved with the two suspects. The suspects primarily used vans and SUV’s as part of their operations.

If you know anything about these incidents or you have been victimized by these individuals, please call the Everett Police Department Tip Line at (425) 257-8450 or Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS.  

Everett PD recommends that you:

  • Keep money and bank envelopes out of sight when you exit a financial institution.
  • Count money inside the bank, not as you walk to or sit in your vehicle.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Never leave valuables or cash in your vehicle.



The Herald:




Thursday, July 23, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Property Crimes Unit Looking for Prolific Burglar

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is looking for Jason Mora who is wanted for burglary. He was seen recently in a pawn shop in Arlington pawning a tanzanite and diamond ring valued at $22,000 that possibly was stolen in Mercer Island. He also is wanted for a burglary in Arlington. Mora has eight previous convictions for home burglary.

Mora is 5ft 6in tall and weighs 130 pounds. He has scars on his left calf and left forearm as well as several tattoos including a naked woman, cartoon characters on his arm and letters on his neck.

Mora has been seen in casinos in Tulalip wearing a blond wig. He has a new $150,000 warrant for Attempting to Elude.

If you know where the Property Crimes Unit can find Mr. Mora, call 911. Crime Stoppers is also offering a $1,000 reward for information about Mora’s whereabouts. To have a chance at the reward, call 1-800-222-TIPS with your tip.

Washington’s Most Wanted:



SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Danger of Brush Fires Remains High

While temperatures have cooled off, to the 70’s, the dry continues. Weather forecasters predict some showers, but, the rain that any showers provide at this time of year will not soak the ground or vegetation enough to take us out of danger of wildfires.

Fire officials have shown concern about our dry conditions for some time now. The most recent statement coming from the Seattle Fire Department who held a press conference yesterday that needed to be delayed due to a brush fire. In a report published in the “News of Mill Creek” Fire District 7 pointed out that it responded to 37 brush/bark fires between July 1st and July 15th.

Snohomish County has a wide variety of terrain including urban, suburban and rural landscapes. The dry conditions provide excellent fuel in parks, many walking trails, and forest areas where we live. How we protect our homes may differ slightly depending on if we are in a city, a housing development or in the country.

Here are some basic suggestions for preventing brush fires from the Seattle Fire Department:

         Clear leaves and debris from the roof, gutters, porches and decks.

         Remove dead vegetation from under the deck and porch and within 10 feet of a house.

         Remove flammable wood piles, propane tanks away from homes and garage structures.

         Prune trees away from homes.

         For homes adjacent to large areas of greenbelt, consider defensible space between home and landscaping.

         Either keep lawn hydrated or cut it if it’s dry.

         Practice an evacuation plan out of your home and out of your neighborhood.

The Seattle Times:

Here is what homeowners are doing east of the mountains to protect their homes:


If you live near the forest or greenbelt, take a look at this web site on Firewise Communities:


The News of Mill Creek:


The Herald, some brush fires that have occurred in Snohomish County:

Previous posting on fire safety:





Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Task Force Looking for Suspect

The Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force is looking for Clayton Deming. The task force wants Deming for thefts of $192,000 in heavy equipment, trucks and campers all stolen during this month.

Clayton is homeless and drives a red Ford pickup truck.

If you see him or know where he is, call 911.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CYBERCRIME: The Crime of the Future

Criminals change with the times. They might find an unlocked door to go through, then take whatever is on the other side. If they come back a few weeks later and find the door locked, they will move on to another, easier target. If everyone on the block makes it harder to steal, the criminals will move on to another neighborhood.

We all worry about our stuff being stolen from our homes; and our cars, trucks, or SUV's. Not only does theft result in the loss of our personal possessions it results in a loss of our security. Often victims may not have lost much in monetary value, but they have a strong feeling of violation.

Securing our homes, securing our cars and our workplaces are first on our minds. After all, we live, work and travel in these physical spaces. Our homes, workplaces and vehicles are tangible to our senses. We should work hard to secure the places around us.

But, criminals are flexible. They go where they think the money is. And they go where they think that there is little risk of being caught.

Over the last 30 or more years we have migrated more and more of our lives to computer technology. We started with PC's at our desks at work, then at our homes. The convenience of taking our work with us (and sometimes our games) drove us to use laptops, then tablets. Now, we can be completely mobile with smartphones in our pockets and purses. And criminals are following the new technology.

In our wondrous new world of communications and information at our fingertips, a dark side is developing alongside the new capabilities that we have as individuals, companies, and organizations. The future of crime is online. And the criminals who steal online are just as bad as the burglars and car thieves who break into our homes our cars. If we are savvy about preventing crime in our home, then we need to be equally as savvy online.

I have come to this conclusion after reading two books. "Spam Nation" by Brian Krebs (     documents the Russian and East European gangs who try to invade our PC's and to invade the databases of major companies for identity theft and other crimes. The other book is "Future Crime" by Marc Goodman ( who shows the vulnerabilities that we face on our PC's, laptops, tablets, mobile phones. Mr. Goodman projects that  as more of our lives become connected, for example in our cars, our appliances and our security systems, we will open ourselves to seemingly unlimited opportunities for criminal mischief.

One problem with this new age of crime is that the cyber criminals can be anywhere. And they often are far away from your local jurisdiction. With a burglary or a car prowl, you can at least call 911 and have some expectation of an investigation. But who do you call if someone has scammed you out of your hard earned money, or stolen your ID. Often these criminals are on the other side of the world, away from even the FBI or other national law enforcement agencies.

The new reality of cybercrime adds complications and insecurity to our lives. Now we have to think about locking our doors at home and blocking access to our computers and a myriad of new devices that we will rely on in the future.

With the new reality of cybercrime comes new nomenclature; spam, scams, ID theft, malware, spoofing, middle man attack, phishing. New defenses include firewalls, anti-virus software, two factor authentication. Cybercrime and the defenses against it are dynamic subjects that will be developing over the near future.

Police always preach awareness of your surroundings. Just as we should be aware of our surroundings at home or at work, now we need to be aware of potential online crimes. Educate yourself about the online security measures that you can take with your PC and mobile devices. Implement those measures. And keep up to date to new threats and new prevention measures as they develop. It may seem like the best strategy might be to go off line. But we have past the point of no return. There is enough of our information that is already on computers that the best thing we can do is to be engaged and do what we can as individuals to protect ourselves.

For a summary of some things that you can do to protect yourself take a look at this link:

Ask Leo:



FTC: Needs Your Help with Indicted Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants your help with an indictment of six Nigerian nationals who have been extradited to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for various internet frauds including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

The frauds were committed by romance and work-at-home scam operations against U.S. citizens. For example, the scammers would carry out so-called romantic relationships in which they would try to get their victims to re-ship merchandise bought with stolen credit cards, deposit counterfeit checks, and send money to the defendants via wiring money or sending prepaid debit cards.

The FTC has a list of aliases and email addresses that the defendants allegedly used to carry out their scams. The FTC would like the help of anyone who have potentially been victimized by the scammers to look over the list. If they recognize names or email addresses, the FTC requests that they contact the Department of Justice. Their evidence/testimony can help greatly in the prosecution of the defendants.

If you believe that you may have been a victim of criminal fraud committed by any of the defendants, please go to and complete the questionnaire using the password “scams.”

Note: We frequently see appeals from local law enforcement for information about suspects. We rarely hear about national law enforcement agencies looking for help with scam prosecutions. If you have been a victim of a romance or work-at-home scam, or know of someone who was a victim, you can help the Department of Justice bring these alleged scammers to justice.

Federal Trade Commission:

Monday, July 20, 2015

REPORTIT: A Place to Keep the Inventory of Your Valuables

Local police and the Sheriff’s Office frequently recommend that you make an inventory of your valuables in case they are stolen. That list is also helpful should you have damage due to a fire or earthquake.

You can keep your list in your desktop PC, on a thumb drive or CD that you store in a secure place at home. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy off site such as in a safety deposit box at your bank.

LeadsOnline also offers a free online service called ReportIt, where you can keep your inventory. LeadsOnline is an online database that pawnshops, secondhand dealers, gold buyers, etc. can keep lists of property in their possession. Property crime detectives query LeadsOnline daily to search for property that has been reported stolen.

ReportIt has the benefit of being off site (that is not in your house or business) and easy for you to access. If you are a victim of a burglary or theft, you can access the information in your ReportIt account to provide an accurate description of your stolen property. Local police agencies do not have access to your account information.

The information in your account is secured, according to ReportIt, by Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This is the same security protocol that most financial institutions use to secure communications between customers and their servers.

If you are interested in using ReprotIt, you can check it out at the following link-





Sunday, July 19, 2015

EVERETT: Shredding Event

Do you have a bunch of old documents, bank statements, or tax statements with personal or sensitive financial information? Don’t have a shredder? Take those documents to the following shredding event on Saturday July 25 at:

            Washington State Employees credit Union
             404 128th St SW
            Everett, WA
            10:00am to 1pm

There is a 3 box limit. Please do not bring stiff metal, plastic bags, DVDs, or other items that will jam the shredder.

Washington State Attorney General:


Friday, July 17, 2015

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Tuesday August 4th

The Sheriff’s Office has sent out a reminder that National Night Out (NNO) is coming on August 4th.

The Sheriff’s Office is offering to help you spread the word about your NNO event. Go to to register your event. If you would like a deputy to attend, please complete your registration form by July 21st. If August 4th won’t work for your group, you can register your event on a date of your choosing.

The Sheriff’s Office and its contract partners will also be hosting several events throughout the county on August 4th at Willis Tucker Community Park, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Sultan, and Stanwood. For more information about times and places go to:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

AARP- Begins Campaign Against Romance Scams

Today, AARP announced a petition campaign to pressure dating web sites to do more to protect their members from known romance scammers.

According to the AARP announcement, Americans lost $82 million to online dating fraud in the last six months for 2014. AARP thinks that dating web sites could do more to protect their members by:

·         Cracking down on scammers by identifying and shutting accounts of those who pay with stolen credit cards, cardecking IP addresses to verify profiles’ listed locations; employing algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns used by scammers; and using image searches to identify  fake profiles used across various dating websites.

·         Issue early warning alerts to any member who has been in contact with someone using a fake profile.

·         Educate members with tips on how to spot and avoid romance scammers and provide resources and contact information for those who have been victimized.

The online announcement provides an easy to fill out petition to submit to AARP. AARP says it will deliver the petition to the top dating websites such as, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, OK Cupid, SeniorPeopleMeet and Out Time.

Comment: Getting to most scammers is very difficult. Most scammers in schemes like the romance scam are beyond the borders of the U.S. and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of most law enforcement agencies both local and national. AARP’s strategy is to convince online dating sites to get involved to protect their members. If the sites voluntarily take measures to limit the scammer’s access to legitimate members then the effectiveness of romance scams should be greatly reduced. While not eliminating the scam 100%, the actions proposed should help protect online dating consumers. There are no guarantees that this effort will succeed in bringing the online dating sites on board, but it is a start in finding effective ways to fight this new form of crime.

To see the announcement with a video explaining the scam and tips to avoid it go to:



Associations Now:


Previous posting on Romance Scams:




Friday, July 10, 2015


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning about scammers calling you claiming that your grandchild owes money and you need to pay it now.

This is a morphing of a scam that I have reported in the past where scammers call you to tell you that you grandchild or niece/nephew is having an emergency in a foreign country and needs money right away for medical expenses or to bail out of jail, etc.

In this scam, the supposed debt collector calls to tell you that they are trying to collect on a debt that your grandchild owes. They want you to wire them money, send a prepaid card or give your credit card number immediately. If you do not, then they will start making threats:

  • “Your grandchild will be arrested.”
  • “He’ll lose his job.”
  • “We’ll suspend her driver’s license.”
The FTC advises that if you receive a call like this, hang up. Do not be stampeded into sending money. Do not verify any personal or financial information. The FTC also points out that unless you co-signed a loan, you are not responsible for someone else’s debt, even if it is a relative. It is illegal for a debt collector to tell you that someone else, even a relative, has a debt.

The FTC also urges that you report these calls to its complaint assistant web page:

This type of scam tries to scare you into taking action. Scammers call this putting the victim under the “ether.” Get the victim to act emotionally, not logically. After all, you don’t want your grandchild in trouble, do you? The best action to take if someone calls you about a grandchild’s supposed debt is to hang up and contact the FTC.

Federal Trade Commission:


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

TECH SUPPORT SCAM- Scammers Target Mac’s

Traditionally, tech support scammers have targeted Microsoft Windows based PC users with phone calls claiming that the user had a virus on their computer and urging the user to allow the scammer access to the computer supposedly to “fix” the problem, but in reality to introduce malware that can take personal information from the target computer. Apple based Mac systems generally have not been targeted.

According to a press release from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network scammers have begun to target Mac systems also. Only they do not call, they use a phishing technique utilized by ransomware scammers. Phishing tries to get computer users to click on a link that can take the user to a web site that tries to collect personal information or downloads malware that can collect your personal information from your computer.

In this case, scammers may send an email or try to direct you to a web site with one of three domains-,, or Do not visit these web sites! The sites download malware that freeze Macs and displays pop-up messages warning of “dangerous viruses” and malware. Victims are urged to call a phone number for help in removing the viruses and malware, for a price.

Clearly, Mac users need to use extreme caution when clicking on links in emails or on web sites.

Tech support scammers often claim to be associated with Microsoft, “Windows,” computer manufacturers or other computer related organizations. Legitimate computer businesses do not call or email computer users to warn of computer problems.    

Anti-virus and anti-malware software helps to keep your computer safe from viruses and malware. When manufacturers of this kind of software detect new threats they will send updates en masse to subscribers of their software. This is the protection that you should use to protect yourself from viruses and malware. You should also be sure that your anti-virus and anti-malware software automatically updates itself regularly.

AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Microsoft Tech Support Scam Educational Video:




SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Now You Can Text 911!

SNOPAC and SNOCOM, the two 911 agencies in Snohomish County, have announced that you can now send a text to 911. Phone calls are still the preferred way to communicate, but as their new saying goes, “Call if you can, text if you can’t.” If you are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or you cannot speak due to a medical issue, or it would be dangerous for you to speak as in a home invasion, abduction or a domestic violence situation, then go ahead and send a text. Snohomish County is the second county in the state to offer texting to 911. Kitsap County is the first.

All you have to do is to go into your text messaging program in your cell phone, enter 911 in the “To” field (no dashes), type your message and press “Send” like any other text.

The 911 agencies point out that texting may take longer to pass information than a phone call. It takes time to type the text, plus time for a 911 call taker to read the text then send replies and questions.

The 911 agencies ask that you follow these guidelines when texting in an emergency:

  • In your initial text, be sure to include your location as well as the type of help that you need. Location information is not always available when texting.
  • Be prepared to answer questions from the 911 call taker. Keep your cell phone handy so that you can answer questions quickly. Stay on the line until the 911 call taker closes the dialog, if it is safe to do so.
  • Keep text messages brief and concise. Text in simple words, do not use abbreviations, emoticons or emoji. Plain text will get your message across clearly and quickly.
  • Don’t forget to silence your phone if you do not want to be heard.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Only text when you have an emergency situation.
  • Like with regular texts, messages can take a long time to be received, can get out of order or may not be received at all.
  • Currently, the 911 agencies cannot receive texts if you are roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
  • If the service is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you may receive a message to contact 911 by other means.
  • The 911 agencies cannot accept group texts, photos or video at this time.
The agencies emphasize that voice calls are the best way to communicate with them. Passing information is quicker. Also, call takers can pass important information to dispatchers by listening to the ambient noises around the caller. The importance of this program is to add a method of communication for those who have difficulty speaking or who would be in danger if they were heard speaking.

And one final piece of advice, DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE!

My Everett News:


The Herald:




Washington State Emergency Management Division:





Tuesday, July 7, 2015

DEBT RELIEF SCAM- FTC and State of Florida Charge Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Florida have charged a couple with violation of the FTC Act, the FTC’s Telemarketing Rule and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. As a result, a federal court has halted and frozen the assets of the couple and of their multiple companies. The FTC and the State of Florida allege that the couple’s companies have bilked millions of dollars from consumers.

The scammers would cold call consumers, identifying themselves as “card services,” “credit services,” and “card member services,” and offer to reduce their credit card interest rate for an up-front fee for between $695 and $1,495. The scammers did not deliver the on the promised reductions. And the FTC noted in its complaint that most credit card issuers do not negotiate interest rates or discuss consumers’ accounts with third parties.

To build credibility, the scammers would claim to know the amount of the consumer’s credit card debt. They would also provide a license or badge number, mentioned an Internet domain name of the phony business, and falsely claim that they had a business relationship with the consumer’s lenders.

The FTC points out that a third party cannot do anything for consumers that consumers cannot do for themselves, for free. It recommends that if you would like a lower credit card interest rate, that you call the credit card provider’s customer service center (the phone number will be on the back of your credit card) and request a reduction of your interest rate directly.

The FTC strongly recommends that if you receive a call from someone claiming that they can reduce your interest rate that you hang up:

  • Do not give out your credit card information to strangers.
  • Do not share bank account or Social Security numbers with strangers.
  • Be skeptical of unsolicited prerecorded calls, especially if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry.
If you receive a call from a telemarketer that you do not regularly do business with, file a complaint at or call 1-888-382-1222.

If you think that you have been a victim of a credit card interest rate reduction scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at  

Federal Trade Commission:

FTC charges Debt Relief Scammers:

Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Scams:




Friday, July 3, 2015

WILDFIRE RELIEF- Look Out For Scammers

With the fires in Wenatchee, many people naturally want to help the victims. However, the Wenatchee fires are a perfect situation for scammers to take advantage of people’s goodwill. While I have not heard of any scammers calling to the local area asking for donations, yet, this is a time to be on guard.

The Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, along with the Washington State Attorney General and the Washington State Secretary of State have issued a warning to be on the alert for such scammers. They recommend that you be leery of callers soliciting charitable donations who:

  • Demand donations using threats, aggressive tactics or deadlines.
  • Only accept cash donations or checks made out to them personally.
  • Can’t explain what kind of relief will be offered, how it will be distributed, who will benefit, when it will be allocated and what percentage of donations benefit causes.
They also recommend that you be wary of:

  • Search engine results from unknown or untrustworthy websites.
  • Unsolicited emails, instant messages and social media posts from unknown senders.
  • Videos or news stories with unusual or shocking headlines.
The Secretary of State’s Office can provide help if you want to donate to a charity:

The Better Business Bureau also provides good advice at

If you feel that you have been a victim of a scam, report is to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at You can also report your experience on the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker at

Better Business Bureau:





Thursday, July 2, 2015

JULY 4- If You Shoot Them, Use Fireworks Safely!

Numerous fire officials are urging all of us not to shoot fireworks this year due to the extremely dry conditions. However, many of us will want to shoot fireworks.

Remember, in unincorporated Snohomish County, you can only shoot fireworks between 9am and 11:59pm on July 4. Cities within Snohomish County set their own regulations regarding fireworks. The following handout lists the rules for most cities in the county:

The Fire Marshal’s Office recommends that you take the following measures to use fireworks safely:

  • in case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1.
  • have a bucket of water for emergencies and to douse used fireworks.
  • never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • never let children handle or light fireworks; even sparklers can be dangerous.
  • never ignite fireworks while holding them; light one at a time and move away quickly.
  • make sure you give yourself enough room in a safe location – away from buildings, vehicles and flammable materials.
  • never light fireworks inside a structure.
  • watch what you wear; loose clothing can catch fire while handling fireworks.
  • never try to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned; soak them in water, then throw them away.
  • never ignite fireworks while you are under the influence of alcohol and/or mind-altering drugs.
  • never aim fireworks at vehicles, homes, or people.

This video is making the rounds. Take a look and see how fast dry grass can catch fire if a firework lands on it.


For other resources about fireworks, go to,

National Council on Fireworks Safety:

Snohomish County Fire Marshal:


Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

JULY 4th- Residents Learn How to Protect Their Property from Fireworks

Last night residents in Mays Pond listened to a fire official from Fire District 7 and a Sergeant from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office talk about preventing damage from fireworks to their homes.

Chief Gary Meek noted that we are experiencing unprecedented heat and dry conditions in Snohomish County. He echoed other fire officials in the region by encouraging everyone to go to a professional fireworks show instead of shooting fireworks on their own. He expects many calls related to fireworks and expects District 7 fire crews to be stretched over the weekend.

He noted that while fireworks stands started selling on Sunday, the only time that fireworks can legally be set off is Saturday, July 4 from 9am to midnight.

With the extremely dry conditions, there is an extreme danger of grass, shrubs or trees igniting if embers from fireworks land on them. He recommended that homeowners take the following actions between now and the Fourth of July:

  • Remove any fire source from 3 to 5 feet from your house.
  • Thin the vegetation up to 30 feet from your house.
  • Clean your gutters of any debris, including needles, leaves, cones, etc.
  • Move firewood away from your house.
  • Be sure that your smoke alarms are in good working order.
  • On July 4, wet down your roof.
  • Before the fourth, water your lawn and other plants in your landscape well. Keeping them moist will help your plants to resist catching on fire.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. Everyone in your family should know how they are getting out of your house and where they will meet outside of the house. Also, have an escape plan to leave your neighborhood should you need to evacuate. This plan should have two routes as options for your escape.
  • Be ready to defend your home. Have tools available such as shovel, rake, or saw. Also have buckets full of water and a charged (faucet open) hose (or hoses) ready to douse small fires. A fire extinguisher is also a good idea.

Take a “fire wise” approach to protecting your home from wildfires. For more information on fire wise, go to

Sergeant Ian Huri, from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s Office of Neighborhoods, also pointed out that during the Fourth of July holiday 911 agencies like SNOPAC AND SNOCOM in Snohomish County are often inundated with calls for all kinds of emergencies. While the Sheriff’s Office tries to be responsive to all calls, it is limited in its manpower resources.

911 calls are triaged in priority with threats to human life taking top priority. Next in priority come threats to property; and then come calls about infractions. Sgt. Huri pointed out that in the case of a fireworks call if the people are safe and structures are safe, deputies will respond to more serious calls such are assaults and DUI’s first. On the day of July 4, complaints about noise will be the lowest priority.

Sgt. Huri advised to be patient when you call about fireworks. He also suggested to be specific about the situation that you are reporting and to “articulate your real concerns.” Be truthful, do not exaggerate! You lose credibility with responding deputies if they find that the situation is not what has been reported through 911. Risk to human life or to property will get attention. For example, if kids are shooting fireworks in the street and you have seen close calls in cars hitting them, then that is worth a call. Or, you hear a loud explosion that rattled your house, dishes, and windows, that is worth a call. Or you hear someone yelling for help or crying out in pain, call 911.

The following fireworks activities are illegal:

  • Fireworks such as M-80’s, bottle rockets, firecrackers, any firework on a stick, sparkler bombs (bundling several sparklers together are considered to be improvised explosive devices- IED- and is a felony).
  • Setting off fireworks in a public street or sidewalk.
  • Setting off fireworks on private property without permission.
  • Setting off fireworks on school property.
The Washington State Patrol has issued the following press release with practical guidance on when to call 911 during the Fourth of July,

Washington State Patrol:

For a listing of where you can see fireworks shows in Snohomish County, go to this Washington State Patrol document (scroll down to Snohomish County):

For other resources about fireworks, go to,

Snohomish County Fire Marshal:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

The Herald: