Tech Talk #82 – July 21, 2018
Fake tech support scams are on the rise
There are more crooks than ever running fake tech support scams. First it was phone calls, then poisoned pop-ups and hijacked advertising networks, and now social media. When (if) people start to catch on to the scammer’s schemes, they’ll go back to making random phone calls and start the cycle over again. All to try and scare people into giving them money to ‘fix’ a computer that had nothing wrong with it in the first place.
How many more scammers are there? In 2017 the number of reported fake tech support scams went up 86% over 2016. That’s more than 11,000 logged complaints and more than $14 million scammed from people. Many, many more scams went unreported because most people don’t know how or where to report a fake tech support scam. The FBI runs the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. This is where to report a fake tech support scam.
Here’s how to avoid being victimized by these scammers:
- No one from Microsoft, Dell, Norton, or anyone else is ever going to call you about a problem on your computer. Do you know who will? Fake tech support scammers, that’s who. Just hang up on them.
- If you’re browsing around on the internet and a screen comes up telling you your computer has a problem and you need to call some phone number on the screen, don’t call the number. There’s nothing wrong with your computer except malicious advertising has just taken over your computer and wants you to call some phone number. Get rid of them by turning your computer off. If it won’t turn off the normal way, hold down the power button and count to ten. Once it’s off, turn it back and the page should be gone.
- If a web page you’re on asks you to install something, call a phone number, or visit a different site, close the page and then turn off your computer.
- And never give control of your computer to someone from a company you don’t know.
Microsoft, Apple, and the browser-making tech companies hate these scammers as much as we do and they work hard to keep users protected. Keep all of your software updated and run good antivirus and antimalware software.
Microsoft has a page (here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/reportascam?locale=en-US) to report scammers that target Microsoft and Windows. For more general scams, file a complaint at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. Both sites let you report what happened, who contacted you and when, the company name and address, and any money or information that was lost along the way. The IC3 doesn’t investigate complaints directly, but passes on the information that it gets to the relevant law enforcement agencies, and that’s the important part. It really is worth the trouble to report this bad behavior. The more information on who’s running these fake tech support scams software makers and law enforcement can gather, the better.
Cleaning your smart speakers
Smart speakers are Bluetooth-enabled speakers that combine great sound with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana so you can play music, order products, control smart home devices and more with just the power of your voice, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Since these speakers need to be placed where you can interact with them, they tend to be in busy parts of the house: an end table in the living room, a kitchen counter, etc.
So what can you do if you have a coffee stain or a Crayola (or anything else) spot on your speaker?
If you’ve got a fabric-covered speaker like a Google Home or an Apple HomePod, water, or any moisture, is not the way to go. Both companies suggest using a dry microfiber cloth to de-goo your speaker. Officially anyway. A slightly damp cloth and a softly murmured apology probably won’t hurt anything, though.
The Amazon speakers don’t have any fabric on them, but the recommendation is still to use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe them down. If you’ve got a stubborn stain, try the slightly damp cloth method. Remember, only slightly damp.
The next Windows 10 update, scheduled for later this year, will include the first changes to Notepad in, like, forever.
Notepad is the bare bones text editor people use for viewing and editing log files, web programming, and text manipulation, and Microsoft has been listening to what people say they need. Or maybe the people at Microsoft still use Notepad and finally got around to making it more useful.
Aesthetic changes mean Notepad looks modern. Zooming into your text the way Word does is possible. Find & Replace works with word wrapping. Notepad also supports line numbers with word wrapping.
Wait a minute…
Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.