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Something(s) old and something new

Tech Talk


Something old #1 –

Fake tech support scams

I know we've talked about this before, but the fake tech support scammers are still out there. You know that Microsoft, Apple, HP, the FBI or anyone else will NEVER call you about your computer. You know that when, not if, someone does call you it's a fake tech support scammer trying to take your money.

You also know that while you're on the internet, any screen or web page that comes up telling you about terrible things going on in your computer and you should call a number on the screen is also a scam.

The two rules here are don't talk to them when, not if, they call you and shut off your computer as soon as you see one of those scary screen/web pages.

Sure, you know these things. But tell your friends and family, too.

Something old #2 –

Account recovery options

Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, the various AT&T email addresses, and most social media sites, have something called, variously, account recovery options.

It used to be when you forgot your password you could answer a couple of security questions to prove you're you and get on with resetting your password.

But there were problems: 1) many people didn't remember the answers to their security questions (who was my second-grade teacher?) and 2) some of the information was easily looked up by people that weren't you but for some reason wanted to be you.

Which brings us to the new, improved way to reset passwords. Sites will either send you a text with a code, email you a code, or email you a link to reset your password.

The catch is you need to have your current cell phone or landline number and or an alternate email address on file with the site. It doesn't do you any good if the site sends a password reset code or a link to a number you don't have any more or the same email address you're trying to reset the password for.

Sending you a text with a reset code "proves" you're you because you have your phone. If your landline phone is on file, the site can call the number and "read" you the code.

Sending an email with a code or a link to an alternate email address, also "proves" you're you because you can access the other email address.

But what if you don't have a cell phone, landline, on file or more than one email address? Or what if you've changed your phone number or don't remember the password to your other email address?

Then you're stuck with remembering the answers to your security questions. (Where did I meet my spouse? What was the first beach I went to? Do they want my first full-time job or my first part-time job?) Maybe you set up the account so long ago you have no idea what the answers are.

If all else fails, look around on the site for a support chat feature or a phone number.

Note: Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook) and Yahoo! are notoriously hard to reset passwords with if you don't have up-to-date recovery information. There's no phone number to call, and they don't have support chat. Always make sure your recovery information is current for all of your accounts.

It sucks to be popular

Now that Chrome is the web's most popular browser, the fake tech support scammers are specifically targeting Chrome users with a new tactic. It's all very technical, but the bottom line is, they've figured out another way to make Chrome unusable once they've got the fake tech support page to display. The developers at Google stopped the last attack, but now there's a new one.

Your job is still the same, though.

If you see one of these pages, shut down your computer (hold the power button down until it shuts off if you have to) and then reboot.

Darn autocorrect, or maybe not

I tried to say, "I'm a functional adult," but my phone changed it to "fictional adult," and I feel like that's more accurate.

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


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