Wednesday, May 31, 2017


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:


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

See the video here,


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SCAM UPDATE- Tech Support Scam

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted a Twitter chat about Tech Support Scams. Tech support scams remain a problem, taking advantage of computer owners’ legitimate concerns of their equipment being infected by viruses and malware.

During the Twitter chat, the FTC announced a new enforcement program called “Operation Tech Trap.” The operation is a coordinated effort with the FTC and federal, state and international law enforcement agencies to crackdown on scammers using the tech support scam to steal money and identities from the public.

As part of the operation, the FTC announced 16 new actions that included the filing of complaints in court, settlements, indictments and guilty pleas. Most of the actions occurred in the United States. However, the FTC did note that it is working with law enforcement agencies in India to prosecute tech support scammers in that country.

The rest of the Twitter chat talked about what tech support scams are, how they work, and how you can protect yourself. Long time followers of this blog are probably very familiar with the tech support scam. Below are links to FTC web pages that explain the tech support scam. Please review them and pass them to your family, friends and neighbors.

Tech Support Scam Infographic:

Tech Support Scam Explanation:

Tech Support Scam Video:

If you receive a Tech Support Scam phone call or pop up on your computer, report it to the FTC here:

If you become a victim of a Tech Support Scam, go to this link to report it and receive a recovery plan: