Friday, November 17, 2017

SCAMS- Western Union Money Transfer/FTC Settlement

Normally, with online or telephone scams the rule of thumb is that the victim cannot recover any funds that he/she may have lost. Many scammers are not near the victim, making their calls from another state or even another country. However, for some victims, they may be able to recover lost funds due to a court settlement earlier this year between Western Union and the federal government.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Western Union allowed fraudsters to use Western Union money transfers as part of their scams despite receiving hundreds of thousands of complaints about the practice. Western Union also allegedly failed to promptly discipline problem agents and to have effective anti-fraud policies and procedures. In January 2017, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million to resolve the charges.

Scammers would demand that their victims transfer funds with Western Union money transfers for fraudulent lotteries and prizes, fake family emergencies, advance-fee loan scams, online dating and other scams.

If you were a victim of a scam that used a Western Union money transfer between January 1, 2004 and January 19,2017, you may have a claim for a portion of the settlement funds. You can file a claim or learn more about the settlement at

The FTC reminds you that filing a claim is free. You should not pay anyone to file a claim on your behalf. It also says that no one associated with the claims process will call you to ask for your bank account or credit card number.

Federal Trade Commission:

Monday, November 6, 2017

AUTO THEFT PREVENTION- Don’t Leave Your Car Running Unattended

Here is a reminder to stay with your vehicle if the engine is running. With the cold weather, many people like to run the engine to warm up the car or truck while they get ready in the morning to go to work. This gives a car thief a great opportunity to steal your vehicle.

Many vehicles are stolen when they are being warmed up on a cold morning. Other common car theft scenarios include when a driver keeps their engine running while they make a “quick” run into a convenience store, gas station, or ATM.

Don’t make it easy for a car thief. Shut off the engine (and lock your vehicle) if you are going to be away from your vehicle.


Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Imposter Scammers Continue to Call County Residents

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office reports that in the past few weeks it has received several reports from citizens of scammers calling with several schemes to trick citizens into giving money. The scams that were reported were primarily some form of impersonator scam such as, warrant scam, utility scam, IRS scam. In at least one case, the scammer claimed that the citizen had won a prize.

In an imposter scam, the scammer claims to be an official from a federal or local government agency. They try to scare you into sending them money to avoid imminent arrest. With the warrant scam, the caller claims to be from the Sheriff’s Office or local court and says that since you did not show up for jury duty a deputy is on his (or her) way to arrest you unless you pay an amount in iTunes cards or another gift card immediately. Some callers claim to be from the PUD and claim that you have not paid your utility bill. If you do not pay right away, they will cut off your electricity. With the IRS scam, they claim that you owe back taxes and/or late fees. Someone is on their way to put you in jail if you don’t pay.

The scams make some attempt to scare you into immediate action. Some go as far as to insist that you stay on the phone while you go to the store to purchase the cash card. Others spoof the phone number on your Caller ID so that you think that they are truly the IRS, utility, or local police.

The best thing you can do is hang up. No governmental agency will make you pay over the phone with a cash or gift card. If you want to check to see if you owe money, look up the phone number on a statement or with a Google search then contact the agency.

Also, let your family, friends and neighbors know about these scams. The more people who are aware the fewer who will become victims.

The Herald:

Federal Trade Commission:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

HALLOWEEN- Halloween Scam

Q13 recently reported on an event scam that has victimized several people out of their money. The “organizers” used the web and social media to advertise a “Haunted Booze Cruise” for October 28. Then the organizer cancelled and Q13 reports that people who signed up have not received the promised refund and are having trouble contacting the organizer.

While this was a Halloween event, this is a lesson that can be applied throughout the year. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office says that it receives many complaints about phantom events, including fun runs, booze cruises, etc. An Attorney General spokesman said that this scam is becoming “more and more common.”

Here are some tips to avoiding an event scam:

·         Look for specifics. If there is no specific time or place for the event, that might be a clue that it is a phantom event.

·         Be suspicious of any photos on event web sites. Are they stock photos that you can find on other web pages?

·         Do some investigation before signing up. For example, is it a booze cruise? Who is providing the boat? Call them up to confirm the date, etc. Is it a fun run at a local city or county park? Call the parks department and confirm that there will be a fun run.

·         When paying, use your credit card, not your debit card. With your credit card, if the organizers skip out on you, you can dispute the charge and have an easier time to get your money back.

So, have fun this Halloween, but unfortunately you might need to do a little bit of investigative work to ensure that you are signing up for a legitimate event.

KCPQ 13 News:

And if you plan a traditional Halloween with trick or treating, here are some tips for a safe Halloween night,

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is advertising a National Drug Take Bake Day for this Saturday, October 28, between 10:00am and 2:00pm. The nearest location to take your unused and unwanted prescriptions is the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct at 10049 college Way North, Seattle, WA 98133.

While Seattle may be a bit farther than most of us would want to go to dispose of unwanted prescriptions, be aware that there are many sites in Snohomish County that you can take your unwanted drugs during normal business hours.

Removing the prescriptions that you are no longer using is important to helping reduce drug addiction in Snohomish County. Many abused drugs are obtained from family and friends from home medicine cabinets.

For information on where and when you can take your unwanted prescriptions go to,

Snohomish Health District:

For information on Drug Take Back Day go to,

Drug Enforcement Administration:

Friday, October 20, 2017

BOTHELL- Local Perspectives on Opioid Addiction

Last night the City of Bothell hosted a town meeting on opioid addiction. This was a very interesting meeting. Two people whose families were affected by opioid/heroin addiction talked about their struggles and two experts, one from the Snohomish County Human Services and the other from local law enforcement, talked about the opioid/heroin addiction effects on individuals and society. The Bothell Police Department has posted a recording of the whole meeting (about 2 hours long). This is well worth listening to.

Bothell Police Department:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

OCTOBER- Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. Cyber Security is important for our national security, our business security and for each of us for our personal security. Over the past few years there has been more publicity about online fraud, scams, and identity theft. Keeping your computer devices (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone, IoT device) secure should be included in your plan to protect yourself from scams and fraud. Hackers can enter your computer(s) through a variety of means to gather your sensitive personal information.

An example is the KRACK vulnerability that was recently announced. This is a vulnerability that was discovered in the basic WPA2 security protocol that is used in modern modems and routers. The vulnerability could allow a middle man attack when the attacker is within range of a Wi-Fi connection. That could be someone at a coffee shop, in a nearby office or apartment unit, or in close proximity of your house. This article from Leo Notenboom should help you decide if you need to take action and if so, what action to take:

Ask Leo:

The KRACK vulnerability points out how we have become dependent on Wi-Fi access to the internet. We use Wi-Fi in our homes, it’s easier to hook up than rewiring the whole house. We also use Wi-Fi on the go when we are shopping, traveling, or hanging out with our friends.

Many cyber security experts discourage usage of open Wi-Fi when conducting online purchases or accessing financial accounts. The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign recommends that you take the following steps to protect your online accounts:

·         Use two-factor authentication wherever possible. In two-factor (or stronger) authentication, when you login to your account, the organization holding your account sends you a code via text message or email that you also enter in addition to your use ID and password. This extra step helps assure the organization that you are really you.

·         Make strong complex passwords.

·         Use unique passwords for each of your accounts.

For more tips on how to protect your information on computer devices go to,


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

VACATION- Practical Things to Do to Protect Yourself

OK, this is not the traditional vacation season, but an article in The Seattle Times by travel guru Rick Steves caught my attention and I thought I would pass it on.

Apparently, Rick Steves was a victim of a pickpocket this summer in Paris. While he preaches using a money belt to protect cash, credit cards and other important documents, he apparently went out without his money belt. This just shows that any of us can be a victim of crime.

While on vacation we do not want to think about crime, there are a few basic things that we can do to protect ourselves and still enjoy our time in new and interesting places. Here are a few things that Rick Steves recommends,

·     Be prepared by making copies of important documents and backing up and password protecting your mobile devices.

·         Leave behind your most valuable possessions, tucked away out of sight in your room, when you are out on the street. For that matter, don’t take your most expensive and flashy jewelry with you on your trip. Leave it protected in your safe at home.

·         Harden your targets by keeping your day bags close to you, looping their straps around your arm or chair leg when you are sitting down and secure your bag with a cable tie, paper clip or key ring.

·         Stay away from crowds. This is where pick pockets can divert your attention with a bump and take whatever is in your pocket or bag.

·         Don’t be fooled by how someone is dressed or how they act. Pickpockets pose as business people, tourists, or just regular people.

·         If you are victimized, act quickly to file a police report, cancel any credit/debit cards and wipe then cancel your mobile device and account.

By taking these precautions, you will come home with good memories of your trip.

For more details and insights from Mr. Steves read his article here,

The Seattle Times:

Sunday, October 15, 2017

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that someone uses to gain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence can include physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It can happen to anyone, no matter social status, income, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

While anyone can be the victim of domestic violence, the clear majority of victims who report domestic violence are female.

Some warning signs of domestic violence are:

·         Jealousy

·         Controlling behavior

·         Quick involvement

·         Isolation

·         Blaming others for problems

Victims can face several barriers to seeking help including fear of injury, shaming and self-blame, lack of money, resources and support, and social pressures to “keep the family together.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence, the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County recommends that you take the following actions to get help,

·         In an emergency, call 911 for the police, get yourself and your children to a safe place, seek medical attention and call DVS for assistance.

·         Be sure to take the problem seriously, it can happen again.

·         Create a safety plan for you and your children.  For information or assistance call 425-252-2873 (425-25 ABUSE).  Collect calls are accepted and ALL calls are free and confidential

·         The Domestic Violence Prevention Act allows victims to get legal protection without an attorney. Contact DVS or the court nearest you for assistance.

·         Consider filing a police report. If no arrest is made, you may consider filing charges in a citizen’s complaint.

·         Save evidence such as photographs of bruises and other injuries, ripped clothing, etc.

Here are some resources on domestic violence:

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County:

Domestic Violence Awareness Project:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Tip Sheet:

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office “Partners in Crime Prevention”:

The Herald:

Monday, October 9, 2017

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Warrant/Jury Duty Scam is Back

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following alert on Facebook:

“The Warrant/Jury Duty Scam continues to make the rounds. In this scam, the caller claims to be a deputy or police officer and says you have an outstanding warrant (most often for missing jury duty). The caller then says to you must have your warrant “lifted”over the phone or police will come to your location and arrest you. The scammer attempts to bully the money out of you by having you purchase a pre-paid cash card and providing the card numbers over to the phone to them. Hang up and call the non-emergency number (425-407-3999) to report.”

You can also report this scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which will add the information that you provide to its database for use by national and local law enforcement agencies.

FTC Complaint Assistant:


Someone asked on my Twitter account, "What happened to 'this will kill you, don't take it?'" If only it was so easy!

"Just say no" may work for many of us, but the opioid/heroin epidemic's origins does not come solely from people who want to get high, according to health officials and those who study the epidemic.   Many people develop their addiction to opioids from a prescription from their doctor to relieve pain due to an operation or other reason. And predicting who will become addicted is not possible. For some, they may take it and get sick, then avoid it. Others may get hooked in short order. At least one study says that 1 in 16 people become addicted to opioids. So are we to blame someone for taking a prescription under a doctor's orders?

Health officials have been recommending actions to help reduce the epidemic that have been classified as "harm reduction." Needle exchanges to reduce the likelihood of diseases such as hepatitis or HIV. Encouraging the distribution of naloxone to save users from deadly overdoses. Reaching out to homeless addicts to offer treatment.  Each of these measures try to keep the addicted individual alive until they are ready for treatment or can be enrolled in a treatment program.

Keeping someone alive while addicted is one thing. The key is to get the addicted off of opioids or heroin or better yet to prevent addiction in the first place. Treatment needs to be expanded and encouraged. Health officials have been advocating for "medication-assisted treatment" where a medication such as methadone or suboxone blocks opioids and heroin from receptors in the brain so that the individual can live a normal, non-addicted life plus behavioral therapy to help the individual navigate through society. But treatment is not easy. People may fail many times before coming to grips with their addiction.

Many observers urge one further step. That doctors should not prescribe opioids for pain as much as they do or should not prescribe opioids at all. In the heady years of opioid prescriptions, doctors were told that they were not addictive and that they should prescribe 30 to 60 pills per prescription. Those claims obviously turned out to be wrong. There is some consensus that doctors should rely on milder pain relievers such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen for most patients.

Are opioids dangerous? You bet they are. But the fact that not everyone becomes addicted to them puts them in a nether world. Many prescription medicines though are dangerous in certain amounts, over an extended period of time or to certain people. We need to be more careful on how we take opioids. We should take them under a doctor's supervision. And apparently, more doctors need more updated education on the benefits and dangers of opioids.

Are opioids dangerous? The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids apparently did not think so at one time.  But the lack of understanding, and maybe intentionally overlooking their danger, as some people allege, has caused much damage to human lives over the last 20 years or so. That's why the City of Everett, the State of Washington, and the City of Seattle, as well as others, are suing opioid manufacturers to recover the costs to their health systems, police and fire agencies, and social services caused by the opioid epidemic.

But what can we do? One thing we all can do is to talk to our teens about prescription drugs. There is a sense by health officials that many teens view prescription drugs as safe like candy. Let them know that prescription drugs are not for getting high. They are for helping with medical conditions under the supervision of a doctor.

No one action will reduce much less eliminate the opioid epidemic. We all need to play a part. We all need to find ways to prevent addiction.

Here is a show that explains the opioid/heroin epidemic,

NPR The Takeaway:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

SNOHOMISH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Crime Prevention Newsletter, Car Theft

Car theft is always a problem and a fear. Without our cars, we cannot go to work much less take care of the daily chores for our families. This issue of the Sheriff Office’s “Partners in Crime Prevention” talks about car theft and how you can protect your car or truck.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Friday, September 15, 2017


You probably have heard about the data breach at Equifax. In case you have missed it, here is a quick summary.

Last week, Equifax announced that someone had hacked into its servers and stole people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal information for about 182,000. Equifax estimates that a total of 143 million Americans were affected by this breach.

Equifax is one of the three credit reporting agencies that sell information to lenders and credit-scoring companies to determine consumer’s eligibility for loans, lines of credit, and other functions such as employment. The other credit agencies are Experian and TransUnion. The danger of this breach is that hackers, scammers, and fraudsters worldwide can use your personal information for purchases, to take out loans in your name, file for Income Tax refunds in your name, etc.

While the breach and how Equifax has handled the breach has caused controversy in the press and in Congress, there are actions that you should take that will help to protect yourself. This breach is serious enough that the Washington State Attorney General issued recommendations for actions Washington consumers should take:

·         Find out of your information was compromised. Equifax has set up a website,, to allow consumers to research if they have been affected. There have been several stories in the press questioning the reliability of this website, however.

·         Consider placing a credit freeze with each of the credit agencies. A credit freeze makes it more difficult for someone to open an account in your name. If you will be applying for new credit, or applying for something that requires checking your credit such as buying a new car, renting an apartment or applying for a new job, you should temporarily lift the freeze to allow the financial institution to check your credit.

·         Check your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies by visiting

·         Regularly review your bank statements, credit card statements and other account statements for suspicious charges. Remember, fraudsters often make small chargers to accounts to see if the accounts are being watched. Report any suspicious transactions immediately to your bank or credit card company.

·         If you believe that there has been unauthorized activity on your accounts or that you have become a victim of identity theft, take the following actions:

o  Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at

o  Place a credit freeze on your credit files.

o  File a police report and send a copy to the three major credit reporting agencies

In addition to the actions above, the AARP Fraud Watch Network suggests,

·         Adding a fraud alert to your credit report. A fraud alert tells lenders and creditors who check your credit report to take additional steps to verify your identification before extending credit in your name.

·         Consider hiring an identity theft protection service.

Taking actions to protect your identity from a breach can seem complicated and time consuming. Here are some up to date resources that will help you.

Washington State Attorney General:

AARP Fraud Watch Network:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

Here is an explanation about Identity Theft Protection Services-

This link explains the difference between fraud alerts and credit freezes-

And an alert from the FTC, no, Equifax is not calling you-

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SNOHOMISH HEALTH DISTRICT- Offering Needle Clean-up Kits

With the opioid/heroin epidemic going on in Snohomish County and the number of homeless in the county, residents have been finding needles on the ground in some areas of the county. While most of us might judge that whoever left the needles were acting carelessly, the fact remains that the needles are on the ground and there is a concern that an accidental poke from one of them could spread disease to our families.

In some areas of Everett, community neighbors have banded together to pick up abandoned needles in their neighborhoods. Most of us, probably do not know what to do if we find a needle on the ground.

You can call for help from your local law enforcement agency. But, understand, it may take some time for a deputy or a police officer to come to the site and take care of the needle(s). If you would like to call, use one of the following non-emergency numbers:

·         SNOPAC (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and cities in the northern part of the county)- (425) 407-3999

·         SNOCOM (Incorporated cities in the southwest part of the county)- (425) 775-3000

If you would like to pick up the needle(s) yourself, the Snohomish Health District has recently posted instructions on how to handle needles. It is also offering a free needle clean-up kit that you can pick up at Health District headquarters in Everett during normal business hours. To see those instructions, and a how-to video, go to,

Snohomish Health District:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HOME SECURITY- What to Look for in Security Cameras

Cameras are popular now to keep watch over your home. They may provide some deterrent affect especially if they are in view. But also, they can provide evidence that you can hand over to deputies if someone takes a package from your porch or burglarizes your home.

Cameras can be placed outside to cover your front porch, your front drive if you park your car there, and any other potential entry point to your house or out buildings. They can also be strategically placed inside your home where burglars might take your possessions.

Here are some things to think about when you go shopping for a camera system,

·         Resolution: The better the resolution the better odds that you and the Sheriff’s Office have in identifying suspects. A resolution of 780p should be adequate for identification, especially if you are on a budget. 1080p is better if you can afford it.

·         Field of view: The wider the field of view, how far from left to right the camera can see, the better to catch any suspicious activity.

·         Night vision: Most home burglaries occur during daylight hours. But, car prowls at home occur at night. If you are concerned about car prowls in your neighborhood, be sure that the cameras have good night vision capabilities.

·         App design: Most new camera systems allow you to view them when you are away with your tablet or smartphone. Try to check out the apps of the camera systems that you are considering for ease of use and capability.

·         Cloud storage: Most new systems store your images in the cloud. Security camera companies often offer a certain amount of cloud memory for free and more for a fee. The free storage may only be able to keep a few days of storage. Consider how much memory that you think you will need.

·         Security and privacy: Be sure that the information that is stored on the company’s servers are secure from hackers. Also, be sure that the data signal from your cameras to the company’s servers are also secure. This is important because most of the time what your cameras see are of your private life which you do not want strangers to see.

·         Internet/Wi-Fi connection: Most camera systems can connect to the internet through your Wi-Fi. Be sure to have a strong signal between the locations of your cameras and your router/modem.

For some suggestions on cameras, take a look at this link,

Business Insider:

Monday, August 28, 2017

HURRICANE HARVEY- Watch Out for Scammers

If you have been following the disaster in eastern Texas as a result of Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey you may be motivated to give money for the victims. As unusual, scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s good will to take their money.

The Better Business Bureau has compiled a list of legitimate organizations who are helping in the Hurricane Harvey relief. Before giving to any organization, look at this information:

Better Business Bureau:

Here is some general guidance about giving to a charity,

Federal Trade Commission:

Friday, August 25, 2017

SCAM UPDATE- Fake Check Scam

Scammers may use a fake check to steal your money. This may be part of a phony prize award, fake job offer, mystery shopper scam or bogus online classified ad sale. The scammer sends you a check that might over pay an agreed-on price or salary/wage then instructs you to keep the amount that was agreed to, and send back the rest via Western Union, MoneyGram or prepaid debit cards or iTunes gift cards. The Better Business Bureau lists the fake check scam as the number 2 scam in its Scam Tracker survey.

The key to this scam is that the check is no good. But, it can take time, a few days or even a few weeks, for your bank to figure that out. And when they do, they take the money out that they originally credited to your account and may charge you a fee. So why didn’t they wait to credit your account until they were certain the check was good? By federal law they need to make the funds available in a short time, often before they know if the check is good.

Be leery of any scheme that has you sending funds back from a check no matter the reason.

Federal Trade Commission:

NBC News:

SCAM UPDATE- New Social Security Scam

A new scam uses a new technique to collect your personal information. A scammer calls from the 323-area code, posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee. They tell you that you are due a cost-of-living adjustment that increases your Social Security benefit. To receive your increase, you will be asked to verify personal information such as your Social Security Number, name, date of birth, parents’ name, etc.

This is another scam that you need to hang up on if they call.


SCAM UPDATE- No Secret Bank Accounts

The FTC and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York report that scammers are claiming that you can pay your bills with “secret accounts” or “Social Security trust accounts” and routing number at Federal Reserve Banks. The caller asks for your Social Security Number in exchange for a bank account number at a Federal Reserve Bank. There are no secret or Social Security trust accounts that you can use to pay your bills. This is a way to collect Social Security Numbers or other personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.

The FTC points out that only banks can have an account at the Federal Reserve Bank. So, as with all other phone scams, just hang up.

Federal Trade Commission:

SCAM UPDATE- Make-A-Wish Sweepstakes?

AARP and the Make-A-Wish Foundation are warning everyone about scammers who pose as being from the “Consumer Protection Agency” or the Federal Trade Commission” making phone calls claiming that you have won second place, $450,000, in a Make-A-Wish sweepstake. You just need to send them $4,500 in processing fees to claim your prize. There is no such agency called the Consumer Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not offer sweepstakes.

If you receive a call telling you that you have won something out of the blue, hang up. It’s a scam!

Make-A-Wish Foundation:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

AARP- Fraud Watch Network

AARP provides many services for and to retired people. Older citizens can be susceptible to fraud and scams. AARP has taken on the mission to educate the elderly on scams and how to avoid them with the Fraud Watch Network ( At its Fraud Watch Network web site, you can learn about fraud and scams, how to detect them and how to avoid them.

One of its new services is a scam-tracking map that allows you to see reports of scams near you. You can see scams nationwide or close to home. The map, located at;jsessionid=00000000.app261b?cmp=RDRCT-ADV-FRAUD-050916&NONCE_TOKEN=257473E4AB228C4845962CC1424B9E3F, also lets you do a search for types of scams and report scams that may have occurred to you.

Knowing that scams have happened to your friends and neighbors is an important element in guarding against becoming a victim. While this may not be a comprehensive source, it is valuable in keeping you aware of current scams. Other sources are your neighbors, press releases from local law enforcement agencies and the news media. The Better Business Bureau has a similar scam tracker at

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



Friday, July 14, 2017

DISTRACTED DRIVING- New Law to Take Affect

On July 23, a new state law will take affect that bans using a hand-held cell phone while you are driving. The ban also includes use while stopped at traffic or at a traffic light, typing messages or accessing the internet or information on the phone and watching videos or using cameras.

 You can use a hand-held device in your car in the following situations,

·         With a hands-free device such as Bluetooth.

·         You can operate the device with a single touch or swipe without holding it.

·         Parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic.

·         Starting your GPS or music before you start driving.

·         Contacting emergency services.

Violators can be given a ticket that costs $136 for the first offense and $234 for a second offense (within 5 years).

Washington Traffic Safety Commission:

Here are some ideas about devices that might make phone use in your car safer,

The Seattle Times:

Friday, July 7, 2017

BURGLARY PREVENTION- What Burglars Look for in a House

Once in a house, burglars don’t want to hang around too long. What do they do when they are in your house? Most burglars who KGW TV surveyed last fall told the station:

         The first place they go is the master bedroom. That's where they can find the jewelry, credit cards, guns and a safe or lock box.

         Then its closets, safes and guns are often found in closets. If you do have a safe, make sure it is a large, heavy one easily and bolt it to the floor so that it cannot be carried away.

         On the way out, they will look for common hiding places like the stove, freezer, toilet tank, book shelves.

For more on what burglars have to say, check out the video at this link,


Thursday, July 6, 2017


We often hear advice from police on what to do, and sometimes what not to do, to protect our property. But what do burglars say? Last fall, the TV station KGW, in Portland, broadcast prevention advice from 86 burglars.

Here are some of their recommendations:

·         Biggest mistakes by homeowners:

o  Closing the drapes when they leave the house. Open drapes indicate someone is home and allows someone from the street to see a burglar inside.

o  Not closing the bathroom window.

o  Locking a sliding glass door and placing a dowel in the track is fine, but not having a second small lock on the slider makes it vulnerable to a break-in.

·         Best targets:

o  Houses with 6 foot fences.

o  Houses that cannot be seen from the street because of overgrown vegetation or fencing.

o  Houses with the mail/newspapers accumulating.

o  No vehicle in the driveway.

o  Houses away from other houses with older window frames and cheap wooden doors.

·         What do they recommend that a homeowner can do to avoid being burglarized:

o  Make your house visible with good lighting and trimmed shrubbery and trees.

o  Know your neighbors and alert police when you see anything suspicious.

o  Leave a TV or radio on when you are gone.

o  Put up a camera and make it visible.

For more on what burglars have to say, check out the video at this link,