Smart, capable people call us when technology problems make them feel like idiots. Here are some situations we’ve been seeing a lot lately—perhaps they’ll sound familiar.
Mac users, unaware of the recent issues with Mac keyboards, convinced they are terrible typists. (They’re not: and Apple will fix your keyboard for free if it’s on this list, but be sure to back up first).
Verizon Wireless customers unable to get Verizon’s robocall screening app to work—because apparently you have to call them to activate the free version. (Ugh).
MANY people who’ve fallen victim to online scams and phishing attacks. They’re not idiots; the scammers are clever, creative, and HIGHLY motivated. These scams reap millions of dollars, especially from older people (the data suggest that we may become more gullible as we age).
It really infuriates us when good people get scammed, so here are
Five Tips to Keep You out of Trouble Online
1. Learn ONE SIMPLE TRICK to close pop-ups
Say a scary web page pops up saying YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED, CALL MICROSOFT [or Apple] IMMEDIATELY AT THIS NUMBER. It may even speak or play music loudly.
And there’s no “close” button. You can’t get out of the page. So in desperation you end up calling the number on the screen.
SOLUTION: you can often close a popup window using easy W (for Window) key combinations:
2. Treat AMAZING FREE OFFERS as if a stranger is asking for your wallet
The most common breaches now are Trojan Horse-like situations where we innocently let something we shouldn’t into our computers. Some “helpful” apps steal your personal information, install malware, or change your browser settings. Plus, what they offer can usually be done better another way. So if you see an offer for a FREE! HELPFUL! TOOL! that will, for example:
DO NOT INSTALL IT no matter how tempting it sounds unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE it’s safe and necessary. (Clients, feel free to shoot us an email and ask).
(If you think you might already have done this, here’s how to remove them: Chrome, Firefox, Safari).
3. Use Bookmarks to stay on the sunny side
A common way people get into trouble is by visiting deceptive web pages. You can avoid this by creating bookmarks to websites you visit frequently (especially financial sites).
Here’s how (in Chrome).
4. Don’t Call Unknown Numbers
The FCC is warning of a new one-ring phone call scam.
5. Back Away from the Bad Guys, Slooowly and Carefully
If you DO get caught---you called the number and allowed a stranger into your computer:
1. Be polite. It’s important not to anger a scammer who is already connected to your computer, because they can do a LOT of damage.
2. Don’t pay them anything, ever.*
3. Those scary-looking “events” they may show you on your computer are normal, NOT a sign of major problems. Don’t panic.
4. Hanging up the phone doesn’t get them out of your computer. If you can’t figure out how to disconnect them, continue to chat pleasantly and TURN OFF THE COMPUTER; if all else fails, hold the power button down until the computer is completely off.
5. When you turn the computer back on, stay offline while you remove any software (apps) they installed.
6. Scan for malware (Malwarebytes is a great tool with a free trial).
7. Assume they have captured your passwords; change the important ones (email, backup software, financial) immediately, and turn on second factor authentication, always.
8. Print this out and keep it near your computer (or your mom’s).
*The one exception: if you are the victim of a ransomware attack and you have no backup; in that case you have no choice. But there’s no excuse for not having backup!!!