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Fake tech support scams, passwords and managers

Tech Talk

 

December 22, 2018

Greg Cunningham

Fake tech support scams

They're still out there, you know. Like chewing gum stuck to the bottom of your galoshes, those fake tech support scam "people" are still out there, stealing people's money. They just won't go away.

I know you're smart enough to know that no one from Microsoft (or HP, or Google, or Yahoo, etc.) will ever call you to tell you there's something wrong with your computer. But what about your friends and family? Remind them that those people on the phone are 1) not from Microsoft, 2) there's nothing wrong with the computer and 3) the safest thing to is hang up the phone.

Also remind them that when a page pops up on the computer screaming (sometimes literally) about disastrous problems and offering a number to call for immediate tech help, there isn't anything wrong with the computer. We know it can be hard to get rid of that stupid and scary web page, so gently remind your friends and family they can shut down their computer by holding down the power button until it shuts off. When they turn the computer back on, the page will be gone, and their computer will be just fine, no matter what that stupid and scary web page said. Now, have them run a full scan with their anti-virus and anti-malware programs, like washing your hands after working out in yard.

Those scary web pages aren't just a PC problem either, the same scams show up on Macs and smartphones these days, too. It's kind of hilarious to see a web page screaming about how your Windows files are corrupt, when you're seeing it on a Mac or a smartphone.

Password resets

In the old days (a couple of years ago), if you forgot your password for your email or social media account, you could prove you were you by answering some security questions and then reset your password.

But there were problems with that method; 1) many people didn't remember the answers to their security questions (who was my second-grade teacher?) and 2) some of your personal data could be captured by people who weren't you but maybe wanted to be.

Today, companies will email you a code, or email you a link to reset your password.

But that doesn't do you any good if the site sends a password reset code or a link to the same email address you're trying to reset the password for. That's why many companies also want to know your cell phone number or a different email address to use to reset your password.

Sending you a text with a reset code is a great way to reset passwords. It "proves" you're you because you have your phone and it's fast. Some sites call the number on file and "read" you the code if you gave them a landline instead of a cellphone number.

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, 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?) 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 company's website for a support chat feature or a phone number.

Don't you hang up on me...

Kids today will never know the satisfaction of slamming down the phone after an argument. Now all they can do poke at the screen in an angry rage.

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 greg@tech-hachapi.com.

 
 

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