Sheriff's office warns of scam involving San Mateo Co. alert system

San Mateo County officials have issued a warning about a scam text alert that appear to originate from local authorities.

It reads in part "Dear Foster City Residents, as part of our safety requirements by California Law, our officers conduct an annual inspection of San Mateo County" and that they will need to "enter your unit during the inspection" and "requests that pets are secured" and alarm systems deactivated.”
“When someone takes information or like SMCAlerts and really tries to prey on people that's unacceptable,” said David Canepa, a San Mateo Co. Supervisor.

He has been behind a push to get the SMCAlert system into the hands of all county residents and worries abuses like the scam will dissuade people from opting in to the program. 

“When people begin to prey on others by doing this it really adds to the confusion,” Canepa said. “What's transpired is wrong. If someone tries to enter your home or make some sort of threat. We don't do that.”

Launched in September of 2015, the SMCAlert system contacts residents of San Mateo County via email, cell phones, smartphones, tablets and voicemail message, in the event of an emergency such as an earthquake or a major storm. 

Such systems were highlighted as sorely lacking in the North Bay Fires when it came to alerting residents on the dangers.

In the Camp Fire in Butte County, it was an instrumental tool for those threatened by the inferno. 

County officials say actual SMC Alert text messages will come from only two five digit phone numbers; 89361 or 87844.

“A text message from a normal number like a ten digit number, it's obviously not going to be ours. Also look for if it's professionally done… is it cut and paste,” said Craig Denton with the Office of Emergency Services, San Mateo.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office says they will never send out a message via SMC 
Alert demanding access to a home or business and that anyone claiming to do so is an impersonator.

People should call 911 if they have any doubts about who is at  their door since dispatchers will know if sheriff's deputies have been