Monday, January 23, 2017

SCAM- Amazon Contest Scam

There is a phishing scam going around nationwide that claims to be from Amazon that says the recipient has a “lucky chance to win.” If you receive this email, delete it from your inbox.

It came to the attention of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) when one of its staffers received the email with “AMAZON” in all caps. It was sent from a Gmail account called Amazon contacts, a bogus Amazon email address.

The email had eight links that gave an option to unsubscribe, play the contest/game to win prizes and one to find the answer to a joke.

ITRC reminds everyone:

·         Never click on a link in an email if you cannot verify the sender’s authenticity.

·         Do not click on attachments if you are not sure of the authenticity of the sender.

·         Watch out for “spoofed emails.” Scammers can easily make their emails look like a legitimate business, organization, or government entity.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

GRAFFITI- Still a Problem in Snohomish County

Graffiti continues to be a problem in Snohomish County, be it from taggers or from gangs marking their territory or sending a message to a rival gang. According to The Herald, reports of graffiti in Everett have remained steady over the past two years.

The rule of thumb to remove or paint over graffiti quickly remains valid. If someone has put graffiti on your property remove it as quickly as you can.

If you see graffiti on county property such as parks, bridges, roadways, buildings, etc. report it to the county here:

While most graffiti is produced by individual taggers some graffiti is painted by gangs. Descriptions of some gangs in Snohomish County can be found in this handout:

To report areas with chronic graffiti, go to

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

The Herald:

Friday, January 20, 2017

MICROSOFT- Recruiting Teens for its Council for Digital Good

Microsoft is recruiting teens between the ages of 13 to 17 to advise it in how teens use the internet, what they are doing online, who they connect with, and what they share and learn.

The motivation for this effort is to find ways to effectively reduce risks that teens may encounter while using the internet and to educate youth in what they can do to mitigate those risks.

The Council for Digital Good will consist of 12 to 15 teenagers who will attend a two-day summit in August 2017 in Redmond, WA where they will participate in discussions on internet risks and interact with Microsoft staff. Parents will have their own “parent track” during these meetings. Council members will be asked to return to their schools and communities to promote “digital civility.” This is a one year pilot program.

Microsoft offers the following to council members who sign up for 1-year or 18-month terms:

·         Paid travel for Council member and one chaperone for the on-campus summit.

·         Opportunities for college and other recommendations, mentoring and personal/pre-professional growth.

·         After serving on the Council, youth may be eligible and considered for “internships” or other posts are various third-party organizations.

For those teens interested in applying, go to The deadline for applications is March 1, 2017.

The following link has information about online safety:

Digital Trends:

Monday, January 16, 2017

DRUGS- Do You Know What Drugs Look Like?

Can you tell if your child is using drugs? Or if your child has drug paraphernalia? The Arlington Drug Awareness Coalition is holding a presentation at Weston High School and Lakewood High Scholl with interactive displays and representatives from local agencies to educate the public about the hidden signs of drugs and the symptoms of drug abuse in the home. The presentation at both high schools will be held on Thursday, January 19, at 6;30pm to 8:30pm.

For more information about this event go to:

Arlington Drug Awareness Coalition:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

IDENTITY THEFT- Protect Your Child

We usually do not think about children being vulnerable to ID theft, but they may be one of the best targets for ID thieves. Children have no credit therefore their credit history is pristine. And, it will no doubt be years before ID theft is discovered.

Sometimes a family member of the child is the thief. They may be in a dire financial situation and need to pay bills such as rent or late utility bills. The child’s Social Security Number is often the what an ID thief takes.

Some signs that your child has been victimize by identity theft include:

·         Your child receives a pre-approved credit card.

·         You receive financial documents addressed to your child by a name that you did not use.

·         Collection agencies call for your child for past due bills.

·         Being denied government assistance because your child is “employed.”

·         The IRS denies your child as a dependent because of their “employment.”

·         The IRS sends a notice demanding your child’s income taxes.

·         Your child is denied a driver’s license due to outstanding tickets that your child did not accrue.

·         Your child is denied a credit card or college financial aid due to a credit history or employment record that should not apply to your child.

For more details about protecting your child’s identity, go to the following links:

Federal Trade Commission:

YAHOO- No Phone Number for Customer Service

If you have a Yahoo account and want help, don’t call. Yahoo does not have a phone number for customer service. If you do a search and find phone numbers for Yahoo they are fake, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC has received complaints from people who have called phone numbers that were supposed to be to Yahoo and were told that was a fee to provide help. Yahoo says its customer support is free.


Friday, January 13, 2017

MOBILE COMPUTING- Protect Your Privacy on the Go

With the trend of taking our computer devices with us, our laptops, tablets, and smartphones (these are really, very portable computers), keeping them secure is becoming more and more important.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recently published some common-sense tips that apply to us in the state too:

·         Review your privacy settings.

·         Only download apps from the Apple or Google app stores.

·         Does everyone (Apple, Google, Microsoft, that neat app you just downloaded, need to know where you are?

·         Use an encrypted password manager for your passwords.

·         Use two factor authentication.

In addition to these tips, this link, from the CBC, has two good videos that are worth watching on mobile security:


When you get a new phone, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reminds everyone not to just throw out your old phone or give it away. Before you dispose of your old phone consider the following:

·         You might want to save text messages and your contacts list to your new phone. After you have done that, delete those texts and addresses and phone numbers from your old phone.

·         After saving or downloading the apps from your old phone to your new phone, delete those apps from the old phone. This will protect you from a stranger getting into any accounts that those apps might access.

·         Check your old phone’s internal memory for any information, files, photos, etc., that you might want to save or that you would not want anyone else to see. (Specifics on how to do this is provided in the link below).

·         After you have done all of this, perform a factory reset of your phone.


And Consumer Reports has these suggestions:

·         Turn on automatic updates.

·         Use screen locks for all of your devices.

·         Check your data-breach status.

·         Use temporary email addresses.

·         Cover your laptop or tablet camera.

·         Use web sites that are secure (https) whenever you can.

·         Turn off the tracking in your apps.

Consumer Reports:

Monday, January 9, 2017

TAX SEASON- Beware of Scammers

We have just completed the holiday season and now we can look forward to filing our income taxes. And between now and April 15th, numerous governmental agencies will warn us about scams related to our taxes. Some of the scams you may have heard about, others may be new. Being aware of the frauds that scammers are trying to push on you will help you to hand up the phone, or delete an unwanted email to avoid becoming victimized.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently estimated that tax scam victims have paid more than $50 million to scammers posing as IRS agents since October 2013. That is an average of $5,200 per incident.

5 scams related to tax time include:

·         IRS Scam. This scam has received a lot of publicity in recent years. And it continues to be a major scam. The key to this scam is to scare you to act and act quickly. Remember, the IRS will not call you out of the blue and demand that you pay them with an iTunes card or something similar right away. If you get a call like this, hang up.

·         “Federal Student Tax.” You may receive a call demanding payment for a “federal student tax.” There is no such tax. However, the IRS says that fraudsters are hounding students and their parents to pay. It also reports that some fraudsters are threatening to report students to police if they do not pay. Hang up if you get this call.

·         Fake Notices Related to the Affordable Care Act. Scammers may send you a fake notice that you owe money in relation to the Affordable Care Act. Often this is in the form of a CP2000 notice. Real CP2000 notices from the IRS are not bills, but are notices about failure to report income, payments or credits, or an overstatement of deductions. For more information about the CP2000 go to

·         Verifying tax return information over the phone. Sometimes a scammer will call you, claiming to be from the IRS, and ask to verify your information on your tax return (Social Security Number, etc.). The IRS will not call you to verify your tax return information. This is another opportunity to hang up on a scammer.

·         Pretending to be a tax preparer. Scammers may send you an email pretending to be from the IRS, a tax preparer or tax software company. This is an attempt at phishing to either install malware on your computer or collect your personal information for ID theft. Also, when finding a tax preparer, be sure to check yours out so that you know they will not take your personal information for ID theft or sell that information to others.

If you become a victim of a tax related scam, do the following:

·         Report it to the IRS at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page,, or call the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, (800) 366-4484.

·         File an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission,

·         Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.


Identity Theft Resource Center:

Friday, January 6, 2017

PHISHING- It Can Happen to Anyone, and Has

Recently, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) pointed out that anyone can be a target of a scammer. Its example was an email that it received claiming its Apple ID was restricted and that they would not be able to make purchases on iTunes until they updated their account. Its point is that if they, experts on ID theft, receive phishing emails like this, you can also.

In mid-December, Los Angeles County announced that in the spring of 2016 over 100 Los Angeles County employees received a phishing email that caused them to disclose usernames and passwords. The county was going to notify 756,000 citizens of the breach. The county also had a warrant out for a Nigerian that it claims was behind the phishing attack.

Even with the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, phishing emails are a key component into letting Russian operatives into the Democratic Party’s computers.

While the phishing email threat to us as individuals may not come from a government, we need to defend ourselves from scammers and ID thieves who are interested in our personal information, our computers for malicious bot activity, or to extort money from us in a ransomware attack.

ITRC recommends:

·         That you never click on a link or open an attachment in an email that you were not expecting. This is true even if the sender appears to be someone you know or recognize.

·         If you do receive an email requiring you to change or update your information, get verbal confirmation before opening any link or attachment.

·         You can also go directly to the sender’s website through your web browser.

ITRC also recommends that if you receive a phishing email that claims to be from Apple forward the email to  This is a monitored email inbox that does not generate individual email replies.



CBS News:

Federal Trade Commission: