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Washington state agencies open fraud prevention Web site | News Briefs

Emergency training

As part of its emergency preparedness plan, the city of Mercer Island is asking citizens and businesses to prepare to be self sufficient with a shelter in place for seven days during a natural disaster.

The city is also asking citizens to volunteer to assist in a disaster. Emergency Preparedness Officer Jennifer Franklin is now looking for volunteers to begin monthly training programs. Two series have been scheduled:

On March 20, from 9 to 11 a.m., the city will hold its Disaster Preparedness Series at City Hall Chambers. The class is a basic disaster preparedness course, explaining the city’s plan and the basics on how to get prepared.

On April 17, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Emergency Well Training program will be held at Rotary Park, 4320 88th Ave. S.E.

For more information or to volunteer, check the Emergency Preparedness Page at www.mercergov.org, contact Jennifer Franklin at 275-7905 or jennifer.franklin@mercergov.org

Fraud prevention

In an effort to counter consumer fraud and give residents a way to report crooked businesses, the Department of Revenue, Department of Labor and Industries and several other agencies have established a Web site, www.suspectfraud.com, that allows consumers to check if a business is registered before they sign on the dotted line. The site also allows consumers to report cases of suspected fraud.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has proclaimed March 7-13 as Washington Consumer Protection Week in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week. Information on the national program is available at www.consumer.gov.

While the vast majority of businesses are fair and honest, fly-by-night roofers, movers and other con artists, many of them not even registered in the state to do business, are always out there trying to make a fast buck by doing poor jobs or gouging customers.

“Knowledge is the best defense, and state agencies have combined forces to make it easier than ever for the public to ‘check with the state before it’s too late,’” Gregoire said.

Links on www.suspectfraud.com allow consumers to check whether businesses are registered and licensed with the state and to report them if they are not, see if a registered business owes the state taxes, has had complaints filed against it, or is the subject of state enforcement actions. Visitors can verify the legitimacy of charity fundraisers and report fraud involving a variety of industries, such as banks, child support, insurance, unemployment and workers’ compensation, vehicle titles, and medical services. Links also are provided to assistance for fraud victims.

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