Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County
Do you need help resolving a problem, a conflict, or a dispute? Call the Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County, a non-profit organization that provides mediation services which allow parties to develop their own solutions to challenging situations. The DRC can help you with personal or professional issues including, family relationships, elder care, estate/post probate, land use, landlord/tenant problems, neighbors, parent/youth difficulties, parenting plans, small claims, workplace difficulties. Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County can be reached at 360-698-0968 or send them an email.
Do you know about Nixle? It’s a free text and email notification system used by the City of Bainbridge Island to share critical information from the Police Department, Fire Department, Emergency Management, and more. Nixle alerts are issued to advise residents and businesses of road closures and detours, severe weather impacts, emergency response operations, disaster protective actions (i.e. shelter-in-place, lock-down, evacuate), and other emergent issues. Sign up today on the Nixle website or by texting 98110 to 888777 and get real time updates on your cell phone, email, or both. It’s free!
Identity Theft and Fraud
Never reveal personal information about yourself to anyone over the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unless you are confident you are purchasing goods or services from a legitimate, licensed, and bonded business. Phone scammers, especially, do all kinds of things to trick you into thinking they know you or members of your family. If they are pressuring you for personal information or pushing you to wire money, or buy gift cards, simply hang up. Personal information includes your address, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, loan numbers, security questions, or pin numbers.
Nationwide, an estimated 700,000 people become victims of identity theft each year. An average victim spends $808 to clear up discrepancies related to identity theft, and spends approximately 185 hours over two years to straighten their credit and financial matters. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, please read the following recommendations:
- Report the Crime to Law Enforcement Immediately - To report the theft or abuse of your financial information or property call 911. Police will give you a case number to reference with creditors, financial institutions, or to use if further future instances occur. You will often times be required to fill out loss affidavits regarding the fraud with your bank or creditors. This is important to identify you as the victim of the loss or theft and the financial entity as the victim of the forgery or fraud.
- Notify Your Bank, Financial Institutions, and Creditors - The sooner you notify your bank and creditors of your lost or stolen information the sooner measures can be put in place to "flag" your accounts. Having your accounts immediately flagged will help to catch the perpetrators and protect you from being liable for any fraudulent charges. It is best to close the jeopardized accounts and open a new account disallowing criminals access to your new information. If fraudulent charges appear, call Consumer Credit Counseling Services, at 800-388-2227, to help clear your credit report.
- Credit Reporting Agencies - If you are the victim of a loss or theft, call the fraud units of the three major credit report agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Request that your credit be locked. Credit card monitoring services are also a good idea, which alert you to inquiries, new accounts, or other changes to your credit reports.
- Change Your Passwords - To protect all your accounts and personal information, change your passwords on a regular basis. If you are a victim of a crime, change all passwords immediately.
- Stolen Mail - Call 911 to make a report and consider installing a locking mailbox.
- Guard Your Garbage - It is recommended that you shred any documents containing your personal or financial information. Criminals often peruse citizens’ garbage cans for any useful data they can find and steal.
- Credit Card Fraud - Here’s a great website with tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of credit card fraud.
Attempted fraud by telephone is very common and becoming worse every day. Scammers threaten people with lawsuits, liens, and even arrest if they don’t pay an alleged debt. Unfortunately, scamming is highly successful, and this makes some scammers relentless. Many use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to camouflage the number they are actually calling from, making it look as if they are located somewhere they are not. They may even leave a callback number, but if you dial that number you are unwittingly being routed to a boiler room somewhere that is likely not even located anywhere near the identifiable area code.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are aware of this epidemic, but unfortunately these types of criminals are nearly impossible to find. If you or someone you know ever falls victim to one of these scams, please call your local law enforcement agency to report it. If you live out of state and the number the scammer left with you appears to be a Bainbridge Island number, you will want to contact your local law enforcement agency to report it (crimes are always determined to have been committed where the crime actually takes place). If you were defrauded over the phone and you live in Florida, it means the crime took place in Florida regardless of where the criminal happens to be operating from. Your local law enforcement agency will contact other agencies during the course of their investigation if they feel it is warranted.
Here’s an interesting article on how scammers use VoIP to stay hidden in the shadows and another article from Pindrop Security pertaining specifically to the IRS scam. Also, please report these attempts to defraud at the federal level through the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and directly to the IRS.
Report Crime Online
Did you know that certain types of crime can be reported online? In order to meet the criteria for online reporting, the incident must have occurred within the Bainbridge Island city limits, there must be no known suspects, and it involves either a harassing phone call, identity theft, lost property, theft, or vandalism. If what you wish to report meets that criteria, visit the CopLogic page to make your report. For all other types of reporting, call 911. Yes, call 911. Even when it’s not an emergency. Simply tell the dispatcher your call is not urgent and it will be prioritized accordingly.
Sex Offender Search
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to provide OffenderWatch® to the citizens of Kitsap County. OffenderWatch® is is the nation’s leading sex offender management and community notification tool that provides the most accurate and timely information available regarding registered sex offenders. It’s completely free. Visit Kitsap County Sheriff’s Alerts website to get started.
If you are the victim of a crime, it is important to know that you have rights and you are not alone. Victim’s rights are protected by what is known as the Victim’s Bill of Rights (PDF). The first and most important step you should take is reporting the crime and/or your victimization to law enforcement, then reach out to the Crime Victim Assistance Center at 360-874-8270. The CVAC maintains a comprehensive list of local and regional agencies offering services and will help match your needs with those agencies that can serve you best. Resources include assistance with clothing, domestic violence, food, medical issues, mental health, sexual violence, shelter, suicide.
Victim Notification Program
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) administer a Victim Notification Program which allows eligible victims and witnesses to obtain reliable and timely information regarding a criminal’s release from custody when victims and witnesses are registered with the agency. Sign up if you would like to participate in this notification program.
Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH)
Do you need a criminal history or background check for employment or for some other reason? Visit the Washington State Patrol WATCH site (Washington Access to Criminal History). For a nominal fee, you can get criminal history information including convictions, arrests less than a year old with dispositions pending, and information regarding registered sex and kidnap offenders. This information reflects criminal history in the state of Washington only.