REPORT ALL SUSPICIOUS OR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY TO 911

Friday, September 15, 2017

EQUIFAX DATA BREACH- What You Should Do


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, https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, 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 www.annualcreditreport.com.

·         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   www.identitytheft.gov

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.

AARP:

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 (http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/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 https://action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/FraudMap.html;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 https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.


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 https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1 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:


KING TV:


KSAT12, San Antonio, TX:


Consumerist:


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

SCAM UPDATE- Tech Scam


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,

Microsoft:

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.

Fraud.org:



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.

Remember:



·         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 https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-1.



ITRC:


FTC:

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,

KING TV/KGW TV:





Thursday, July 6, 2017

BURGLARY PREVENTION- What Burglars Say


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,



KING TV/KGW TV:



Saturday, July 1, 2017

4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS- Call Non-Emergency Number for Fireworks Complaints


Here is a reminder, with July 4th coming, to call your Non-Emergency number for complaints about fireworks. You should use one of the following numbers:

Southwest Snohomish County (SNOCOM)- (425) 775-3000

The rest of Snohomish County (SNOPAC)- (425) 407-3999

If someone has been injured due to fireworks, or there has been property damage due to fireworks call 911 immediately.

For more information about fireworks and calling 911/non-emergency number check out this article,

The Herald:





Friday, June 30, 2017

NEW SCAM TWIST- Scammers Targeting Real Estate Closing Costs


There seems to be no end to what scammers will target. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) are warning consumers to watch out for scammers intercepting money transfers during real estate transactions.  Consumers have lost thousands of dollars thinking wiring instructions were changed when in fact scammers were redirecting their funds.   

The way the scam works is as follows:

Scammers will hack into the email accounts of buyers and real estate professionals to collect information about upcoming real estate transactions.

When the scammer finds a pending real estate deal, they will send an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or the title company, with instructions about a last-minute change to the wiring instruction to a different bank account. The new account belongs to the scammer.

This scam tries to take advantage of a buyer’s emotions as a real estate deal closes. The time up to sending payment to the seller can be a busy period in the transaction. A house purchase is an important transaction for most people, so most buyers will feel pressure to get things right. If the scammer can slip in some bogus instructions to convince the buyer to send the money to a bogus account, then they have just made some easy money.

One method of hacking for the information is phishing or in some cases spear phishing. In a phishing attack, a hacker will send an email with links to malware or attachments with malware that when opened will send back information to the hacker. In a spear phishing attack, the hacker has learned who belongs to the organization and sends the email with malware to specific employees, often posing as supervisors or other employees in the organization.

If you are closing on a house, the FTC and DFI recommend that you:



·         If you get an email changing your money-wiring instructions do not do anything until you have checked with your real estate agent or the title company. Do not call or email to any phone numbers or email addresses in the email. Use phone numbers or email addresses that you have received separately. Remember, email is not a secure way to send wiring instructions.

·         Don’t open email attachments, even from someone you know, unless you are expecting it. Opening an attachment can install malware on your computer.

For more information about this scam, look at the following links,



Federal Trade Commission:


Washington State Department of Financial Institutions:



The Simple Dollar:


For more information about phishing scams check out this link from the FTC:





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Jury Duty Scam


They're baaaaaack! The jury duty scam came back. According to a Sheriff’s Office posting on Facebook today three victims have told the Sheriff’s Office that they were contacted by someone who said that the victims needed to pay thousands of dollars to have a warrant “lifted” because they missed jury duty. The caller claimed to be from the Sheriff’s Office.

In one call, the scammer used the name “Deputy Miller’ and threatened arrest if the victim did not pay with a “Money Pack” (a type of cash card). In another call, the scammer claimed to be from the Sheriff’s Office’s “Civil Department.”

In a statement, Sheriff Ty Trenary said, “If someone who claims to work in law enforcement or for the courts calls you asking for payment over the phone or for other sensitive information like your Social Security number, you can guarantee this is a scam.” He added, “County employees will never call you to request this information and anyone who does should be reported to the police immediately.”

If you receive a call like this, just hang up.

                     

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SHERIFF’S OFFICE- Crime Prevention Newsletter- Fentanyl


The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has published the latest issue of its crime prevention newsletter, “Partners in Crime Prevention.” This issue focuses on a new designer opioid that is causing problems in other parts of the US and in British Columbia. Local drug task forces are expecting the drug to come to the northwest. To learn more about this designer opioid, please look at the newsletter here,



Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:



Monday, June 26, 2017

JULY 4- Use Fireworks Safely


The Fourth of July holiday is coming and fireworks will be part of the celebration.

Last year the Sheriff’s Office responded to over 540 fireworks complaints.

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, when there is an immediate threat to life or property, dial 9-1-1.

         have a bucket of water for emergencies and to douse used fireworks. Keep the ground wet.

         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.

         Only light one firework at a time.



Also, if you see illegal discharge of fireworks, please call the non-emergency phone number, (425) 407-3999 for unincorporated Snohomish County or (425) 775-3000 for cities of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway. DO NOT call 911 unless there is an immediate threat to life or property.




For other resources about fireworks, go to,



National Council on Fireworks Safety:




Snohomish County Fire Marshal:




Fireworks Discharge Locations:




Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:





Monday, June 19, 2017

SCAM UPDATE- New Twists to Old Scams


IRS Scam with a Twist. The IRS scam is alive and well. The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers about a new twist to this long, lasting scam. It has received reports from around the country that a scammer, claiming to be from the IRS, tells the victim that the IRS had sent two certified letters in the mail and that they have been returned as undeliverable. Then the caller threatens arrest if the victim does not make a payment through a prepaid debit card. The caller claims that the card is linked to the IRS’s EFTPS payment system. The caller also warns the victim not to contact  their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the “tax” payment is made.

Payment is not linked to the EFTPS and is totally controlled by the scammers.

EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically using the internet or by phone. This is a free service and does not required the purchase of a prepaid debit card.

The IRS reminds everyone that it will not call and demand immediate payment of taxes, threaten to use local police to arrest you, or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For more about protecting yourself see the alert at,

Internal Revenue Service:




Tobacco Settlement Scam. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is warning consumers about online advertisements claiming that consumers can receive “guaranteed” tax-free payments of $2,300 every month – forever. According to the scammers, this is a provision of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The Attorney General’s Office says that this is a scam. Individuals cannot receive payments from the agreement.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is an agreement between the four largest U.S. tobacco companies, 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. It settles lawsuits that related to health care costs incurred by the states. While not providing for payments to individuals, some states, including Washington, issued bonds backed by the settlement agreement payments as an investment opportunity.

While claiming the availability of tax-free payments, the advertisements points the reader to an order form to receive information in how to apply for the payments. Consumers must purchase a subscription that has a fee of between $79 to $129. The order form asks consumers for personal information and credit card numbers. The Attorney General’s office warns consumers that once they provide a credit card number, it may be difficult to cancel and obtain a refund.

If you have received these advertisements you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at http://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.

Washington State Attorney General’s Office:




Door-To-Door Home Repair Scams. The AARP warns everyone that summer is a good time of year for door-to-door scammers to operate. Often, scammers will knock on your door and tell you that they have just finished some work for your neighbor and that they would be willing to do work for you at a deep discount. He will demand an up-front payment to start work then disappear or do a shoddy job and demand additional payment to finish. One example is someone claiming that they just laid down asphalt for a neighbor and that they have some extra that they could install right away and for cheap.

AARP recommends that you be wary of anyone who,



·         Comes to your door and offers to fix a problem.

·         Anyone who tries to pressure you to make a quick decision.

·         Anyone who asks for payment up front.

In dealing with potential contractors,



·         Get a written estimate and compare bids before starting any work.

·         Ask for three references and check them.

·         Check with the Better Business Bureau (https://www.bbb.org/en/us) for any complaints before you hire a contractor.

For more about protecting yourself from fraud and scams go to,



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Gang Activity Increasing


On Monday, the Sheriff, Ty Trenary, two Sheriff’s Office detectives and an FBI agent testified before the Law and Justice committee of the County Council on the gang activity in the county.

Since early 2015, there have been 56 gang-related shootings that have killed two people and injured 14. Many of the people involved in this gang violence have been teenagers with the shootings occurring in and around schools and apartment complexes in South Snohomish County. The danger to the public, in addition to becoming injured or killed in crossfire, includes a rise in robberies and property crimes such as theft, car theft, car prowls, burglary, vandalism in the form of graffiti, etc.

The Sheriff’s Office team emphasized proactive police work in the form of working with other local law enforcement agencies, working with schools to lower the level of truancy, and developing community-based prevention strategies.

One of the most important things that you can do initially to prevent gang related crime is to educate yourself about the gang problem. Please look at the following sources of information.

Here are a couple of links to the testimony before the Council:

Briefing paper:


Video (the testimony starts at about 11 minutes from the beginning) Testimony lasted about 40 minutes: http://snohomish.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=5767

This article gives a good summary of the problem,



Saturday, June 3, 2017

EDMONDS- Mail Theft


The Edmonds Police Department says that between 100 and 200 pieces of mail were stolen overnight (Friday night/Saturday morning of June 2/3) in downtown Edmonds and in the north part of Edmonds.

Most of the mail was taken from unlocked mailboxes although mail thieves did pry open some locked boxes.

A police spokesman attributed the thefts to mail thieves looking for money that has been mailed a graduation gifts. Mail thieves often look for money (cash, checks, gift cards, credit/debit cards) or information that they can easily convert to money such as account numbers on bank statements or credit card bills). With the months of May and June a prime time of year for school graduations, it makes sense the mail thieves would be looking for money as gifts in the mail.

Edmonds police highly recommend:



·         Pick up your mail regularly. Do not leave it overnight in your mail box, even if it is a locked box.

·         Consider using a locked mailbox.



Mail thieves usually go through the mail immediately after they steal it, then discard any mail that they do not want.

Edmonds police said that they would take any found mail to the Post Office so that it can be re-delivered.

If you find mail on the ground report it to police and to your local post office.



My Edmonds News:



Thursday, June 1, 2017

CAR PROWL PREVENTION- A Strategy

With summer coming, car prowls tend to rise. Recently, Teresa Wippel, from Lynnwood Today (http://lynnwoodtoday.com/), interviewed Lisa Wellington, a Crime Prevention Officer for the Lynnwood Police Department on how to prevent car prowls.
Wellington recommended that, if possible, you put away anything that could be construed as valuable. That can be your laptop, cell phone, glasses, purse/wallet, back pack, sports bag, etc. Some car prowlers at parking lots will watch for people putting away valuables in their trunk, console, or other hiding place. Then when the car owner leaves the car, the prowler will go right to the valuable item.
In addition, she recommended that when you park your car, you,

·       Scan the inside of your car for anything that could be considered valuable.
      ·         Stow away everything in view in your car.
      ·         Secure your car by rolling up windows, closing sun roofs’ and locking all doors.

This simple procedure will help you prevent a car prowl against your vehicle.

Lynnwood Today:
http://lynnwoodtoday.com/ask-lynnwood-cop-keeping-car-safe-prowlers/

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

NEW DISTRACTED-DRIVING LAW- What You Can and Cannot Do


At the end of July state law changes to clamp down on distracted driving due to personal electronics, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop computer or gaming device. The law should take effect around July 23, 90 days after the state Legislature’s regular session ended.

The new law bans handheld uses such as composing a text or reading a message, picture or data. Taking a photograph while driving will also be illegal. The law also specifies that drivers cannot use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

Texting while driving and holding a cellphone to your ear remain illegal.

You may use a smartphone if it is mounted on a dashboard cradle, for example to use a navigation app. But you cannot use it to watch video while driving.

Electronic systems that are built into your vehicle, such as hands-free calling or navigation systems, remain legal. Calls to 911 or other emergency services also remain legal. You may use a handheld device if you have safely pulled off the roadway.

Violation of the law, called Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE), is a primary offense, meaning a police officer or deputy can stop you if he/she sees you using a handheld device. And a DUIE citation will be reported on your motorist record. The traffic fine for DUIE will be $136 for the first violation and $235 for the second violation.

As passed, the law was supposed to take effect in January 2019 to allow for a ramp up of an educational effort. However, Governor Jay Inslee vetoed that part of the bill to have it take effect sooner.



The Seattle Times:





Friday, May 19, 2017

SCAM ALERT- Fraudsters Target Immigrants


Scammers target just about anyone. That includes immigrants. Scammers are taking advantage of the current turmoil of the changes in federal policy regarding immigration to take your money or get your personal information.

Recently, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned the public about scammers identifying themselves as being from “U.S Immigration” demanding victims provide or verify personal information. The scammers claim that the individual has become a victim of identity theft. The scammers often spoof the DHS Office of Inspector General hotline (1-800-323-8603) to lend legitimacy.





Also, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued an alert warning of another twist that scammers are using against immigrants.

Scammers are calling immigrants in the US, claiming to be from the Canadian Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) telling the victims that they are under investigation, or there is some sort of legal case against them. The scammers spoof the caller ID so that victims think the call is from IRCC. Bottom line, as usual, to make all of this trouble go away, the scammers demand that the victim send money, right away via money transfer or prepaid gift card.

According to the FTC, the IRCC handles immigration issues in Canada. The IRCC does not take payment by phone, money transfer or prepaid gift cards. Also, the FTC says that the IRCC does not call people in the US.

Federal Trade Commission:




Like with most other scams, if you receive a phone call asking for your personal information or demanding immediate payment, just hang up.

If you have a question about your immigration status as a result of a scammer’s phone call, go to,



U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:


or

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

CAR THEFT- Confessions of a Car Thief


Car theft continues to be a problem in Puget Sound. But with the prospect of warmer weather coming, there will be more opportunities for car thieves to steal cars. For example, many people will leave their windows open when they park their cars at the mall or at work.

Recently, KING TV broadcast a video from their Portland partner station of an interview with a former car thief. The interview gives an insight into what motivates someone to steal cars and how they work.

When asked how drivers can prevent their vehicles from theft, he recommended the following:



·         Use a steering wheel lock such as The Club.

·         Lock your car, whether you park it in a parking lot or at home in the driveway. Many car thieves (and car prowlers for that matter) check door handles to see if they are unlocked. This is called “Jockey Boxing.”

·         Install a good car alarm.

·         Install a LoJack system. LoJack is a system that alerts local police to the location of your vehicle if it is stolen. For more information about it, go to http://www.lojack.com/.

See the video here,

KGW TV: