Thursday, December 29, 2016

ID THEFT- Card Skimmers Can Be Found at Gas Stations

You probably have heard of card skimmers at ATM’s collecting account numbers for ID thieves. Card skimmers can also be found at gas stations. Just as with ATM’s, ID thieves may attach a device to gas pumps where you swipe your credit/debit card. Every time someone swipes a card, the device stores the account information held in the magnetic strip on the card. The ID thief comes back to collect the device and download the information.

Here is what you can do to protect yourself:

·       Before you swipe your card, check the pump for anything unusual. Tug at the reader to see if it is loose. Make sure the reader looks like the others on the other pumps around you.

·       Sometimes pinhole cameras are strategically placed to read PIN numbers. To avoid this, use one hand to make entries to the keypad as usual and use your free hand to cover the keypad from anyone seeing your entries.

·       Use the pump closest to the cashier. This assumes that the ID thief will attach a device away from the cashier who can more easily observe what is going on.

·       When in doubt pay the cashier with cash or with your bankcard.

If you see anything suspicious, tell onsite staff such as the cashier.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PACKAGE THEFT- Thefts Dramatically Increase

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and Edmonds Police Department have separately issued warnings about increased incidents of package theft in the county and the City of Edmonds. The Sheriff’s Office says that reports of package and mail theft have tripled over the past few weeks while Edmonds PD says the areas around Edmonds have been hit hard.

The Sheriff’s Office notes that almost 40% of package and mail thefts have occurred in Lynnwood. And, 98% of package and mail thefts have been conducted in the 8:30-10:00am time frame and the 1:00-4:00pm time frame.

For those who stay at home, please help your neighbors by keeping a special lookout for suspicious vehicles driving slowly in your neighborhoods or following parcel vehicles or mail trucks. If you see anything suspicious, call 911 while the activity is still occurring! If it is safe try to collect the license number, vehicle description and description of any people associated with the suspicious vehicle to pass to 911. A timely call could bring a deputy out to check out the situation and at least alert police of suspicious activity in your area. Deputies have no way of knowing where package/mail thieves are without our help.

For more reminders on package theft prevention go to the following link:

Monday, December 12, 2016

SMARTPHONES- Don’t Discard that Old Device

We almost all have smartphones. They provide convenience for many functions in your hands. In fact, modern smartphones are really handheld computers that can, send and receive emails, send and receive text messages, alert you to news headlines and weather alerts, take pictures, look up information, stream live video, play games, make purchases, and by the way, make phone calls.

As a result, these portable computers hold a wealth of personal information like names, phone numbers, addresses of our friends and relatives, our financial account information, and other personal information.

When it comes time to get a new smartphone, when your old one breaks or its time to get the latest more powerful model, don’t discard or give away that old device before you have taken steps to protect your personal information.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recommends,

·         Save any text messages that you want to keep and make a backup of your contacts list. Once you have saved this information to your new smartphone, delete this information from your old phone. This should be especially easy if you can keep your information in the “cloud.”

·         Remove any social media apps or other apps that might have your sensitive data such as Dropbox, banking apps, or shopping apps.

·         Check your old smartphone for any extra files that it might be storing by hooking it up to your computer and looking at its file system. This might be a good time to save any pictures on your smartphone and then remove them from your phone.

ITRC also recommends that once you have taken the above steps, do a factory reset to the phone’s original status. That way you ensure that whoever gets possession of the smartphone in the future does not have your sensitive, personal information.

The Identity Theft Resource Center:

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Office of Neighborhoods Recognized for Their Work

On Saturday, December 10th, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s Office of Neighborhoods was awarded the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission’s Law Award for its work in outreach to the homeless to offer treatment for chemical dependency and mental illness.

Between the fall of 2015 and the end of October 2016, the Office of Neighborhoods:

·         Secured housing for 57 individuals.

·         Secured detox treatment for 86 people, 72 of whom successfully completed the program and moved to inpatient drug treatment, an 84% success rate.

·         Helped 60 county residents obtain identification cards.

·         Arranged for chemical dependency assessments for 67 people.

·         Signed up 33 people for health insurance.

 The American Red Cross also awarded the Office of Neighborhoods a Humanitarian Award for their work at the annual Snohomish County Heroes Breakfast held on Thursday, February 8th.

The effort to help the chronically homeless to find housing and enter treatment for addiction and/or mental illness supports crime prevention in Snohomish County. While all homeless may not be involved with property crime, helping them to learn to control their addictions or mental health issues helps them and the community to maintain a safe environment. Just as locking your doors and participating in a neighborhood watch helps prevent crime, the Office of Neighborhood’s efforts prevent crime by taking away the motivation for crime; the addiction to drugs, especially heroin. Heroin addiction does not reside solely with the homeless, it is rampant throughout our society. But this effort is a start to help those without the resources to help themselves.

Congratulations to the Office of Neighborhoods!

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

HOLIDAY SHOPPING- Car Prowl Prevention

Even though we are shopping more and more online, we still go to the mall for some of our Christmas shopping. Car prowls can be a major problem during the holiday season.

Here are some reminders on how to prevent a car prowl:

           Park in a well-lit area of a parking lot where it can be seen by passersby. And avoid isolated areas.

           Lock the doors and roll up the windows.

           Remove anything from view. Car prowlers are looking for items that they can sell or your personal information for ID theft. Some crime prevention professionals recommend that, at the mall, when you bring gifts to your car from the store that you put them in your trunk and move your car to another parking space in another part of the parking lot. That way if you were observed, a car prowler won’t know where your car is parked.

And, this is the time of year when some people warm up their cars before heading to work in the morning. Especially with the cold temperatures like those we are experiencing now. If you start your car, do not leave it. Unattended cars, with their engines running, even in your driveway, are prime targets for car thieves.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

PARCEL EMAIL SCAM- Email Claims Parcel Cannot Be Delivered

USA Today reports that an email going around claiming that a package on the way to your house cannot be delivered may be a phishing scam that could install malware or ransomware onto your computer.

One security company notes that is has seen a significant increase in fake package email alerts in November.

Common subject lines include:

·         We could not deliver your parcel, #00556030

·         Please Confirm Your DHL Shipment

·         Problems with item delivery, n.000834069

·         Delivery Receipt | Confirm Awb no:XXX830169

·         Your order is ready to be delivered

·         Courier was unable to deliver the parcel, ID00990381

·         Your DHL isher please download attachment to view detail and confirmation of your address

USA Today points out that phishing emails want you to trust it and then follow its instructions which are usually to click on a link or open an attachment.

The emails may install malware that allows your computer to be used by a botnet that spreads itself or be used in a nefarious endeavor such as a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. It could also install ransomware that locks up your files by encrypting them, making them inaccessible to you until you pay a ransom for the key to unlock them.

To avoid becoming a victim, take the following steps for all your incoming email:

·         Carefully check for your full name, customer number. Is it as a delivery company has it in your account information?

·         Are you expecting a delivery by this company? Does the package delivery number match an actual delivery number that you are expecting?

·         Check the email address from the sender. Is it a legitimate address, or a fake address?

·         If there is a link to click on, hover your cursor over it without clicking. This will show the address of the link. Does the address match what you would expect? Will it really take you to a web site that the email says it will?

Unfortunately, scammers try to take advantage of the holidays and the buying frenzy during this time of year. Be careful whenever you are looking at your email.

USA Today:

Federal Trade Commission:


Friday, December 2, 2016

NEW PHISHING SCAM- Targeting Amazon Shoppers

AARP Fraud Watch Network has issued an alert concerning a new phishing scam that tries to get customer’s account information with a bogus email claiming that they need to confirm their information before they can make any future orders.
If you click on the provided link, you are taken to a web page that looks just like an Amazon web page. There the scammers want you to give them your name, address, and credit card information (including expiration and CVV security code).

After you enter the information and click on the “Save & Continue tab,” you are redirected to the actual Amazon web site. The transition is smooth enough that you think that this has all occurred on Amazon’s web site.

One tell-tale clue that this is a fake email is the web address embedded in the text at the bottom of the email, “” ”au” is not part of the official Amazon web address.

Always be wary of emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses requiring you to provide your account or other personal information. Hover your mouse curser over any provided links. The link address should show up. Take a look at it to see if it is a legitimate web address for that company.

AARP recommends that if you receive this email that you go to the Amazon web site via your web browser. Compare any order details in the email with the listing in “Your Orders.” If they do not match, the email is not legitimate.

Look at the AARP alert at the link below. It shows just how good these scammers are in mimicking the Amazon site.

AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound has launched a new app to help you report tips to them easier.

Called P3 Tips, the app allows you to fill in information about a suspect. The app has you fill out a series of forms that covers several common situations. There is an area in the app that allows you to give what you know in your own words. The app also allows you to upload photos or videos of suspects or crimes.

The app allows you to pass your information when and where you can without having to call the Crime Stoppers tip line.

Look for P3 Tips in the Apple App store or in the Android Google Play store. If you cannot access the app in the stores you can find it on the web at