Still Falling for Tech Support Scams
I think I do an exceptional job at educating my clients about consumer issues as they relate to technology. It still blows my mind that some of my clients continue to fall for “tech support scams.” Some of these scams may be outright fraud — money for the taking with no intention of services ever being provided or the intentional infection of the computer and subsequent (hallelujah) we’ve fixed your computer ma’am. Others may employ unethical business practices, actually coming to you through a pop-up ad or a phone call with the intention of providing tech support services. They will typically imply that you have a corrupted computer and they can fix it. You may be asked to pay a one time charge of $300 for the incident or be offered a “deal” of $800 or more for “lifetime” support. I am calling scam on both types of schemes. They could ask to get paid by credit card, but their favorite method is the CHECKING ACCOUNT NUMBER. Do you know that anyone with even limited technology / payment processing skills can run an ACH on you as long as they have your routing number and checking account number found at the bottom of your check. This is really scary. A recent customer was told by a scammer to put their filled out check on the scanner and let them remotely scan it for payment purposes. Before I even helped her, I had her go to her bank and close the account. In the future, this is how I will handle it. We can always take care of the computer later, you must take care of your identity first. In this most recent example in my consultancy, the tech support scam incident was likely triggered by a malicious pop up ad telling them that their computer was out of date and in trouble.
If you really want to block ads from even getting a breath of internet on your computer – let me know. Most of you have browser based ad blockers. I am not talking about that. I have something better in mind, on a per computer basis, that prevents the ad servers from seeing the light of day.
Microsoft or Apple or Google are not going to mysteriously pop up on your computer with a phone number (or call you) telling you that you have a problem and that you need support.
^^^ Please copy this sentence to your memory. Read it several times. Then, copy it and paste it into Word or your word processing program. Make the print really big! Print it out. Tape it to your wall or your desk. This is a $1000 tip offered completely FREE! Merry Christmas!
A Note on Saving on Services
Numerous clients have contacted me since last week’s update about saving money on home telecommunications services. With some I have been able to help save on services – in a big league way – and in one case I was not. I don’t think I oversold this idea. If you shoot me a private e-mail, I would be glad to let you look over my Comcast bill and see that I pay $112.xx indeed for TV + a very fast internet package, with three TV’s and owning my own Internet equipment. I have been asked about saving money on the cable modem, which runs about $11 / mo. A good one — Arris or Netgear brand — will cost you $100 and easily last 3 years, short of “Acts of God”, etc. The math works in your favor. However, if you have phone service from Comcast, you will have to pay about the same $11 a month for a combined modem / router device. These cost more than a standalone modem in the store — and may not be worth it to buy outright. The reason why I have always advocated for a separate cable modem (rented or not) and router (owned by you) – is because it is SUPERIOR ON TECHNICAL MERITS. It’s not a matter of cost. And since I have been asked this recently — well Mr. Computer — do you use a separate cable modem and router? Yes I do. I have a Netgear modem and a Synology router.
With that out of the way, there are basically three ways that you are going to save in the BATTLE FOR COST CUTTING — 1) hoping you qualify for a package discount on like services because its been a while (and by that I mean like a year or two) since you qualified for such a promotion, 2) MAKING SACRIFICES, or 3) Cutting down to Internet only and then subscribing to a service like Hulu Live TV at $40 which will give you most of the channels you want. If you insist on the “24 hour cattle ranching channel” (or pick your niche channel) that is the highest cable tier, I don’t know how successful you will be at cost savings. I could easily be paying $200+ a month. I got it to where it is, consistently, by making sacrifices. If you want to save, please let me know your circumstances. We should look at the cell phone bill also!
For years, I have been a Hanukkah and Christmas helper for my clients. If its within the realm of electronics and computers, let me know how I can help you. Perhaps you need help selecting, setting up, and putting back in the box. I’ll be there for you. I have also helped clients with creating cards that can be printed out and mailed to your loved ones. It’s not too late. Photo cards speak 1000’s of words.
2 Numbers on One Phone
This is really cool! Maybe you have business and personal lines. Perhaps you always wanted to make your home phone a cell phone number in addition to your regular cell, but dread carrying two phones. Right now — this option has arrived. The 2018 iPhone models (Xs, Xs Max, and XR) offer eSIM technology. This means you could have two numbers on one iPhone. This capability just became possible with the iOS 12.1.1 update that came out last week. Verizon, AT&T and other carriers worldwide are on board. Let me know if you have questions about the power of eSIM.
Some of my clients live in a cellular dead zone. It’s a brutal existence when you can’t make cell phone calls from you own home, especially when they are work related or there are medical issues involved. Over the past few years, ATT, Verizon, and TMobile have rolled out WiFi Calling for smartphones. It’s that simple. You can make and receive cellular calls over your home WiFi connection even when there is no cellular signal. It has been a godsend to several clients. Many smartphones 2 to 3 years old and newer support this feature. However, if this feature means something to you, you’ll want to buy your phone through “official” channels. By official, I am talking about your carrier or Apple. The market for independently purchased phones, such as purchases made through Amazon or direct from the manufacturer (ie. some Motorola models, Nokia [they’re back], and One Plus), is growing. Unfortunately, I have witnessed that AT&T likes to play games in making WiFi calling an exclusive feature. If you are their customer, buy your smartphone from them or from Apple. Note: visual notification of voicemails will still be a problem in a low cell / no cell signal area.
Awesome Utilities for Archiving Phone Data
Archiving data like text messages and call logs may be a legal issue, a business issue, or even a personal issue for you. Here are some tools for your tool box. With your iPhone, you need to make a full backup to your computer (Windows or Mac) via iTunes. We have probably done this before, but you will want to get in the habit if this sort of record keeping means something. While there are many utilities that can parse this data, I prefer iMazing. It is amazing!. https://imazing.com It is $45 and worth every penny.
On the Android side, I recommend SMS Backup + and SMS Backup and Restore. The second app has some paid features, but I haven’t found the need for them. SMS Backup+ actually takes your texts and makes them into a searchable folder in your Gmail account (WOW). SMS Backup and Restore — exports call logs and text into 2 files on your phone or Google Drive. They can be downloaded onto your computer or the app itself for your viewing pleasure. They can also be restored back to a different Android phone.
Need to sync your Google contacts, calendar and tasks with Outlook? Even with Outlook 2010 and 2013? Even in Windows 8? Using Windows? Buy Gsyncit!!
Remember, your ability to sync with Outlook and a free Gmail account will forever change in Jan. 2013. You will either need to update to a paid GApps account or use a tool like Gsyncit.
Microsoft to retire Windows Live Messenger in favor of Skype | The Verge.
Good move and its about time!!
Computer software is a very different space that we play in today compared to 5 years ago. Windows Vista was a big dud, so people still clung to XP that was nearly 6 years old. The Mac OS was safely out of the dark ages, but version 10.5 still hadn’t been released yet and people didn’t trust the Mac like they do today. Phones? People typed like mad on their Blackberries, but these were seen as separate “work devices” for a certain segment of our daily lives. Palm’s phones were very functional and popular but annoying enough that a grandmother or not-so-tech-savvy person wouldn’t even bother to get involved. The iPhone was barely a couple months old, but there were no apps that you could add to your phone. It was an experiment. Android? Still in its mother’s womb……
It’s 2012 and it’s a new world. We want to get our contacts from our iPhone back to our computer and without effort — whether that computer be a Windows or a Mac based system. We want our Android phone to sync calendar appointments with our laptop. We want to start a document on our computer and then make some edits on our tablet and then e-mail it off to someone else for review. THIS IS ALL POSSIBLE NOW. There are still gaps which cause us to stumble, but the idea of a seamless world of personal technology has arrived.
You understand where we’ve been — but where are we going? I’ve been consuming a lot of technology related media lately (I rarely watch TV). I’ve expanded the variety of media I consume to include many Windows and enterprise focused sources, along with the steady diet of Mac info that I take in. I get most of this information via “podcasts” (which those of you in the ‘old school’ can think of as taped radio shows). Where are we going? SUBSCRIPTIONS.
We are moving away from boxed software. You will not have go out and buy a CD (or DVD) to update your computer. The purchases will come in through downloads and you will have the security of knowing that you will always be up to date, greatly reducing your chances at getting a virus or other confusion. Some hints and a preview that we are moving in this direction…..
-In 2011, Apple released their new operating system (OS) 10.7. It cost $30.
-In early 2012, Apple announced that they were going to release a new OS every year.
– In July 2012, Apple released OS 10.8 for $20 as a download only purchase.
– Each year iPhone and iPad devices get major updates and a few minor updates. While there is no cost, the purchase of your device is the ticket to your subscription.
– Microsoft Windows 8 is being released on October 26 — for an extremely low price of $40 — a download directly from Microsoft.
– It is expected that there will be a Windows 8.1 or Windows 9 about a year from then at a similarly reasonable price.
– Microsoft Office 2013 (which includes a program that many of us love — Word) is going to be PRIMARILY sold as a subscription offering.
– Intended at the consumer market the new Office 365 subscription will cost approximately $10 per month BUT you can install Office on 5 devices including desktops, laptops, Windows and Mac.
– An Office-alternative for Mac, Neo Office, that I have touted for many years requires a donation of $10 to $25 per year to keep getting updates for its product.
This is where software is going. It may be hard to accept. I think its good, but I understand your resistance to change. Companies like Microsoft had to change too or face death caused by the lack of understanding market trends and ultimately customers’ desires.