Spot a scam or a con

With an increase of people in our community receiving scams through the mail, Internet or over the phone, it is a reminder that we are all vulnerable to scammers and con artists merely by having a computer, a phone or a mailbox. So our best defense is to spot a scam when we see it or hear it. The unfortunate reality is that schemes and scams are criminals' bread and butter, and they are successful.

The Sequim Police Department, Clallam County Sheriff's Office and the National Crime Prevention Council bring you tips to spot a con:

• Do not give private information out over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact; it is illegal for telemarketers to request that information to verify a prize or gift.

• Look closely at offers that come through e-mail or in the mail.

• Be wary of mail or e-mails promising "free" vacations, foreign lotteries, cashier check scams, work at home offers or schemes that ask for your money up front.

• Beware of cheap home repair work that otherwise would be expensive.

• Most importantly, if you receive an offer that seems to good to be true, it probably is a scam or a con.

Scams and cons also can lead to your identity being taken and used to open bogus accounts in your name causing extensive damage to your credit score and months of clearing your name once it is detected.

If you are a victim of identity theft:

• File a police report, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax 800-525-6285, Experian 888-397-3742 and TransUnion 800-680-7289) to place a fraud alert on your accounts.

• File a complaint at and and if the crime occurred using the Internet, also file a complaint at

Remember, you are entitled to one free credit report a year regardless of whether you are a victim of fraud or not; you can request the report from or 877-322-8228.

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