Sunday, November 29, 2015

HOLIDAY SHOPPING – Beware of Cyber Thieves

Online shopping continues to grow, especially on Cyber Monday. Online shopping is a prime activity for cyber thieves to steal your identity. Cyber security specialists recommend that you take the following actions to prevent becoming a victim on ID theft online:

           Watch out for online scams

   o    Be wary of deals that are too good to be true. Scammers often sneak “malvertising” with legitimate ads on the web.

   o    Avoid pop ups or offers with free downloads.

   o    Be wary of clicking on links. If a link seems to take you to a legitimate retailer, type the URL, don’t click the link.

           Shop securely

o   Be sure that the URL starts with “https” or a green lock shows on your browser before you make your online order.

o   Research online retailers that are you are not familiar with before you order.

o   Don’t do any online shopping through public Wi-Fi networks. Use your secure network at home (or work if the boss isn’t looking).

           Use two-factor authentication

o   Two-factor authentication adds a step to ensure that you are you (

           Be sure your antivirus, antimalware, web browser and firewall are all up to date







Tuesday, November 24, 2015


You might have noticed that information that you normally can see on is not available or you cannot get into the web site.

According to Shari Ireton, the Communications Director/PIO for the Sheriff’s Office, the contract with has ended. The county is looking into a new vendor for crime mapping. It will take several weeks before crime mapping returns.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Crime Prevention Newsletter Holiday Issue

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has released the holiday issue of “Partners in Crime Prevention.” This issue focuses on ID theft, tips on preventing crime while you shop and how to prevent home burglaries.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:


Monday, November 23, 2015


The holidays are coming and with that the big shopping season of the year. Online shopping and therefore package delivery continues to grow as more people take advantage of the ease of looking for gifts and ordering them with their computer, tablet or smartphone.

UPS, Federal Express and the Postal Service will be busy delivering packages in the next few weeks. Securing delivered packages can be difficult. Too often the TV news has video of someone going up to a front porch and then walking (or running) away with a package that had been left a few minutes before. Before the advent of inexpensive security camera systems, the homeowner would be out of luck. With cameras, at least the victim homeowner can show police who took the package.

Preventing package theft can be difficult. For most of us, having a package waiting on our front doorstep makes it vulnerable to theft. Even if a neighbor picks it up for you, soon after it is delivered, or you have a camera covering your front porch, the package can be gone. You can’t expect your neighbor to have their eyes glued to your house all day. And your camera cannot stop a thief. All it can do is show a picture of a thief.

Crime prevention professionals often talk in terms of “hardening the target” and taking away “opportunity” for a theft. One way to harden the target might be to have a locking box that the UPS or FedEx driver can deposit your package into. No one makes a locking box that is easy to use for the driver or the homeowner. And if they did, then there is a problem of how big to make it; too small and larger packages can’t be placed in it, too large and it may not be practical to place on the front porch.

Taking away opportunity would mean that the package is not visible from the street. Some things that you can do to take away opportunity include:

  • Request a signature on delivery. This means that whoever accepts the package signs for it ensuring that the driver hands it to someone at the delivery destination. If no one is available to sign for it, the driver will try to deliver it on another day.
  • Instruct the delivery service to leave the package someplace that is out of sight of the street, such as the back door.
  • One other option that UPS offers is to enter your garage code as part of your profile in their free My Choice service. When the driver is 10 feet from your house, he/she is given your code to open the garage door. The driver can place the package in your garage and then close the door. The code disappears from the driver’s handheld when he/she is beyond 10 feet from your house. 
If you are having a package delivered to your home, sign up for an automatic alert to your email or via a text so that you know it has been delivered. You might also consider using an app that tracks your package.

Encourage your neighbors who stay at home to be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles (for example following delivery trucks) and report them to 911 right away.

This is where locking mailboxes have an advantage. Many residential locking mailbox units that serve 4, 8 or more houses have one or two locked package compartments. While UPS and FedEx drivers do not have access to these units, when a package is delivered by your postal carrier it is secure.

You can also:

·         Have your packages delivered to your work address or to a neighbor’s address.

·         Have your packages sent to a nearby UPS or FedEx Office location.

Protecting your delivered packages is currently an imperfect proposition. To have absolute security from the time the package delivery company accepts it to your hands may require some inconvenience. While cameras can act as somewhat of a deterrent, they are not perfect. If you are not picking up your package at a UPS, FedEx, or Postal Service facility or at work, taking your package into your house as soon as possible after delivery may be your best strategy to preventing package theft.









Sunday, November 22, 2015

WASHINGTON STATE PATROL- Scammers Impersonating WSP Troopers Association

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) reports that it has received numerous calls from the public regarding phone calls from individuals claiming to be from the WSP and soliciting contributions over the past 4 months. The WSP has determined that the phone calls are from scammers

The Washington State Patrol Troopers Association (WSPTA) does have a telemarketing company that solicits the public for donations. However, the company does not use hard sell tactics nor will they ask for credit card numbers or personal financial information over the phone. Also, individual troopers will not call you soliciting donations.

Be skeptical of anyone representing themselves as a trooper or from the Troopers Association who wants your credit card or other financial information. WSP recommends that if you think you are receiving a call from a WSP scammer, hang up and call one of the local WSP district offices.

District Offices:

District 2, Bellevue- (425) 401- 7788

District 7, Marysville- (360) 654-1204

For information on legitimate solicitors in Washington State, go to the Secretary of State’s Charities Program webpage at








Saturday, November 14, 2015

PARIS ATTACKS- Where to Give

With our revulsion at the Paris attacks yesterday we naturally want to give support to the victims.

In a press release, the American Red Cross says that it is currently not seeking donations for Parisian victims (  

If you would like to donate for victim relief, here are some legitimate organizations to consider:

·         Doctors Without Borders-

·         French Red Cross (in French)-

·         Restaurants du Coeur (in French, provides food for those in need)-

·         Secours Populaire Francais (an aid organization)-

·         Solidarites International (an aid organization)-

Be wary of anyone contacting you on the phone, email, or via social media soliciting donations related to the Paris tragedy. If the caller pressures you to donate right away, wants cash or wants the funds wired to them hang up.

Here is some general guidance if you would like to give:

Washington State Secretary of State:


Federal Trade Commission:

Here are some other articles about supporting the Parisian victims:





Thursday, November 12, 2015

BURGLARIES- Advice from an Edmonds PD Detective

We all fear a burglary at home. Sgt. Shane Hawley talks about when burglars are most likely to break into your home. Hint, it’s not at night, that’s when the car prowlers are out. Take a look at this YouTube video learn when to expect a burglary:

My Neighborhood News Network:

SCAMS- Update on the Latest Scams

Here is an update of some of the latest (and some of the oldest) scams currently going around:

Secret Sister Gift Exchange- Facebook and Instagram users have been seeing posts for a “Secret Sister Gift Exchange.” In this scheme, someone makes a first post inviting 6 friends to participate with a list of secret sisters. If you receive this first post, you are supposed to send a $10 gift to sister number 1 on the list provided by the person who invited you. Then you move sister number 2 on the list to position number 1, place your name as number 2 and invite 6 of your friends to take part. Theoretically, your 6 friends would invite 6 of their friends and you could receive 36 gifts.

The problem with this scheme is that it is a “pyramid scheme” like old chain letters that you might receive in the mail before the internet. Pyramid schemes and chain letters are illegal according to federal law. So, ignore any invitations to participate. For more information about this pyramid scheme, go to:


US Postal Inspection Service:

Holiday Scams- The AARP Fraud Watch Network is warning the public about holiday scams that are likely to occur this Christmas season.

·         For example, scammers will be posing as charitable organizations to take your money. Some may give only a small percentage to a legitimate charity while keeping the bulk of the collected proceeds for themselves; others will just keep all of the money for themselves. The Fraud Watch Network recommends that before giving money that you make sure the charity is registered with the Washington State Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-332-GIVE or online at

·         A great way to for a fraudster to take your identity is through public Wi-Fi. In middle man attacks at your local coffee house, hotel or airport, the potential ID thief can capture your ID, passwords, and account information if you check your bank account or purchase items online using the available free Wi-Fi. This is true even if you connect securely by https. The best action is to do your online banking or purchasing from your own secure network at home.

·         When making any kind of purchase use your credit card, not your debit card. This is true if you are at a restaurant, a brick and mortar store, or online. With your credit card, you are only liable for the first $50 of a fraudulent transaction. With a debit card you have no recourse and the fraudster can have unlimited access to all of the funds in your bank account if he obtains your debit card account number. Leave your debit card in your safe at home.

·         The holidays are the time of year when we often give gift cards to family and friends from specific stores. Often we see racks of gift cards at grocery stores there for our convenience. Some scammers have been known to surreptitiously collect the account numbers of these cards on the racks and then check online to see if someone has purchased the cards and activated them. If they have been activated, the fraudster quickly drains the card of all of its funds. If you want to give a gift card to someone, purchase the card directly from the restaurant or store.


AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Scams that target older Americans- The elderly are often targeted because scammers assume that they probably have money and/or they may be easily confused or persuaded. This recent article from lists several scams to watch out for:



Monday, November 9, 2015

CAR PROWLS- One Officer’s Advice

Car prowls seem to be a consistent problem in our area. In this video of a training session sponsored by the NW Law Enforcement Business Alliance, Everett Police Department Crime Prevention Officer Eddie Golden gives some perspective on car prowls and identity theft.


1.      Officer Golden points out that the FTC does not investigate specific cases. On its web site, the FTC says that it collects “…complaints about hundreds of issues from data security and deceptive advertising to identity theft and Do Not Call violations, and make them available to law enforcement agencies worldwide for follow-up.” So while the FTC may not be able to help you with your specific case, filing a complaint with them can help with FTC and law enforcement agencies’ investigations and law suits against those who break consumer laws (

2.      In his talk, Officer Golden talks about how one car prowl group operated. It is a good example of how easy car prowls can occur.

Take a look at this 18 minute video and heed officer Golden’s recommendations for protecting your possessions and your identity:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

THE HERALD- What Jail Can't Cure

This morning The Herald published an in depth four part series on jails, alcoholism and mental health. It covers the potential tragedy of jails and inmates with mental health problems, Sheriff Ty Trenary’s policies on mental health and addiction in the Snohomish County jail, the efforts of the Sheriff’s Office to encourage the homeless with addictions and mental health problems to get help and a success story of how one man, with the help of a new program, has been working to solve his addiction problems.

This article is worth taking some time to read.

The Herald:



Friday, November 6, 2015

ATM’s– Scammers are Innovating to Take Your ID at the ATM

ATM skimmers have been around for several years. Skimmers are devices that are surreptitiously placed on an ATM machine to record the account information on the magnetic tape of your credit or debit card when you swipe it in the ATM. The Skimmer equipment is often designed to blend in to the ATM and is often hard to spot.

With at advent of chip cards, in Mexico, scammers have developed a new device called a “shimmer” that tries to capture the information on the chip. The shimmer is designed to cover the ATM’s chip reader so that the shimmer can also read the card’s chip.  

In Europe, security officials have noticed the use of an “insert skimmer” which is a wafer-thin device that fits inside the slot that you insert your card into. Insert skimmers are much harder to detect.

The scammer may have your account information, but without the PIN number he cannot get into your account. An easy way for the scammer to get that information is to hide a pinhole camera near the ATM’s keypad. They get clever by placing the pinhole cameras on a false panel above the keypad, beside the keypad, behind convex mirrors, or even false fire alarms.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network recommends that when you are at an ATM:

·         Examine the ATM before entering your card. Look for parts that have different colors than the rest of the machine. Look for unusual equipment at the mouth, keypad, sides or overhead. Wiggle the slot. If it is not securely attached, go to another ATM.

·         If you see an out-of-service message, go to another location. In one scam, out-of-order signs were placed on ATM’s to steer victims to a compromised ATM.

·         Before inserting your card, try several keys such as “enter,” cancel,” and “clear.” A sticky keypad could be a ruse to prevent you from completing your transaction. When you leave to complain about the problem, a fraudster can come up to the machine and complete your transaction to withdraw cash.

·         Always cover the keypad as you enter your PIN! By protecting your PIN in this way, if a scammer does get your account number, he will not have your PIN to get into your account.

AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Krebs on Security:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY– Property Crimes Unit Looking for Suspect

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is looking for Michael Dean Taylor who is a suspect in several vehicle thefts in North Snohomish County. Unit detectives say that he is also a prolific car prowler and ID thief.

According to the detectives, Taylor likes to hang out at casinos where he spends money and gets free coffee. He is known to spend time in Skagit County, Stanwood and Arlington.  

If you know where to find Mr. Taylor, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Washington’s Most Wanted: