Computer / Internet Tips & News – exclusively for Computer Techs clients
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Welcome to the Computer Techs Computer / Internet Tips & News blog. This purpose of this site is meant to provide a service to our valued customers, by keeping you informed with the latest news and tips related to your computer and the internet. Consider using the search box on the left side of the website to help you find a specific topic or article, or scroll through articles below to learn something new.
If you’re happy with our service, please consider recommending Computer Techs to a friend or relative. If we service their computer, you get $25 Off your next service call.
The details: Please have your friend or relative mention your name during the appointment, or after the appointment contact Mark Cobb with the name of the person that you recommended/referred. The referred person must be a new Computer Techs customer and not reside in the same household as the referrer.
Scammers are becoming increasingly clever. Every month we hear from clients who have been scammed by letting someone take control of their computer and coerce them into paying for support for non-existent computer or account-related problems. With a little bit of knowledge of how these scams work, you won’t become a victim yourself.
Scams typically start with a website pop-up, email, phone call or text message from a well-known company such as Amazon, Windows/Microsoft, Apple, or Netflix. You are notified about a large purchase that has been or will be charged to your account – or there’s a problem with your account or device/computer. You’re told to call, click a link or talk to a fraud/account representative to confirm the purchase or account information. No matter how legitimate it sounds – It’s a scam! Read on about some of the most common scams we’ve encountered recently:
“Someone just charged an item to your Amazon account. I’m calling to confirm the purchase or refund your money.”
“This is the FBI and we’ve detected pornographic images on your computer. You must pay a fine right away!”
“This is your friend Bob. Can you please buy a gift card for me so I can give to my niece – I’ll pay you back.”
“Grandma, this is your grandson – I’m in trouble and you need to bail me out. Please don’t tell mom!”
“Your credit card number has expired. I’m calling to get your new number or your service will be cancelled right away!”
“I’ve hacked into your email account – I can prove it because your password is xxxxxx. I’ve got embarrassing pictures of you that I captured with your webcam. If you don’t pay up, I’ll release the the pictures to all of your contacts.”
“Your computer protection has expired. If you don’t call right away we’re charging $399 to your account to renew the protection.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:Ignore the pop-up, email, call or SMS. If you answer an unexpected phone call, don’t answer or engage with the scammer – hang up. Most likely there is no problem at all. Unfortunately you can’t trust unknown or unsolicited callers to be who they say they are, nor can you trust the name or number on Caller ID – scammers frequently used forged numbers. Never, everallow someone you don’t know coerce you into letting them view your computer screen or allow remote access. You wouldn’t allow someone knocking on your door to come in – the same should be true for an unsolicited phone call or message.
If in doubt, log into your account normally (not via a link in an email or telephone number provided in a recording) to check for any unrecognized activity. Or you can call the company using the phone number listed on their official website, or printed on a card you have from the company.
If you’ve already gone too far and realize that you’ve engaged in a conversation with a scammer – below are some examples of how you can quickly get out of the situation.
“My attorney/caregiver handles all of my affairs. Contact him/her.”
“Send me an official correspondence in the mail – you should already have my mailing address.”
Often times scammers tell you that you must act fast – so that you don’t have time to think about it, contact a trusted tech-savvy friend, family member or computer technician. Stick to your better judgement, remain in control of the conversation – or just hang up.
If you have a free Yahoo or AT&T/Yahoo email account and use the forwarding feature to send your email to another email address (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org), you may have noticed that forwarding stopped in January 2021.
Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who needs computer help or service? Consider giving the gift of computer help or service with the purchase of a Computer Techs eGift Card. eGift Cards can be used towards payment of remote support or on-site services. Click the link picture below for more details, or to purchase now.
Internet Explorer is the web browser that Microsoft included with the Windows operating system through Windows 8.1. Beginning with Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is the new browser that’s included with the operating system and is continually being optimized with performance, feature and security updates. That leaves Internet Explorer 11 – released in late-2013 – as the last major version of Internet Explorer.
With other browsers being continually updated – such as Edge version 41, Firefox version 57 and Chrome version 62 (as of November 2017) , some websites have stopped supporting the use of Internet Explorer. One of those websites is Yahoo – which includes the popular Yahoo web portal, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance.
An advantage of using a newer browser such as Chrome includes faster web browsing, improved security and upcoming features that will help stop fake warning messages that are often caused by webpage redirects and misleading advertisements.
If you need help switching away from Internet Explorer and transferring your Favorites and settings to a new web browser, please contact us.
Even though you may have a password system, you still should keep a record of your passwords. Some people put their passwords in a notebook, Rolodex, on their mobile device or online password manager. Which is the best option for you? How to safely manage your passwords
Over the years many of our clients have asked for a way to keep their computers secure and up-to-date, and not have to worry about the seemingly constant barrage of updates. With websites getting hacked on a daily basis, and the increasing chance of your personal information being compromised, it’s more important than ever to keep your computer up-to-date and maintained.
With the Computer Techs Maintenance Plan, we will maintain, update and check the security on your computer on a convenient quarterly schedule. Service will be performed via a Remote Support session which takes about an hour. Services include:
Install security updates for browser add-ons, program updates, available router updates, critical computer firmware and Windows updates
Remove adware/toolbars/homepage hijackers
Remove or disable unused or unnecessary apps that cause security or performance issues
Check internet connection settings and remove any malicious scripts, DNS or proxy settings
Check hard drive health and used space
Check back-up and restore settings
Defragment hard drive files
Check browser settings and remove unnecessary extensions
Delete unnecessary temporary, log and update cache files to free up drive space
Check Wi-Fi settings and adjust if interference or performance issues exist
Apply computer manufacturer’s urgent and recommended software and hardware updates if needed
Check for print jobs stuck in the queue
Check for frequent app crashes or system “blue screen” errors that could lead to more serious problems
Additional benefits of being on our quarterly Computer Maintenance Plan include:
Priority callbacks and email replies with simple or easy-to-resolve issues or questions under 5 minutes at no charge.
When you sign up for the Computer Techs Computer Maintenance Plan, you’ll get all of the services above for less than the price of a house call – quarterly remote service for one computer is just $80 payable at the time of each quarterly service. Additional computers maintained during the same appointment time are just $20 each. Semi-annual remote appointments are also available for $89 and $30 for additional computers. On-site service is also available at regular hourly rates. To sign-up for your initial quarterly remote service, schedule your appointment – or contact us for semi-annual and/or on-site service.
Please Print This Article this article for future reference on how to close a fake warning web page if it locks your browser.
The screenshots in this article all have one thing in common. They are all trying to convince you that there are problems with your computer or device, and that you need to call the number displayed in order to fix the problems. However, if you call the number you will be connected to a scammer who will use scare tactics to convince you that there are more serious problems with your computer, and that paying several hundred dollars for them to “fix” the problems is your only recourse. This scam has tricked thousands of people into paying millions of dollars for non-existent problems.
Never respond to a pop-up on your computer or smartphone screen that urges you to call a number for help. If the Window will not close normally by clicking the red “X” on the upper-right corner of the window, try the one of the following in 3 suggestions (listed in order of difficulty):
1. If present, at the bottom of the front window click the checkbox to “Don’t let this page create more messages” or “Prevent this page from creating additional dialogs” then press “OK”. You should then be able to close your browser normally using the red “X”.
2. Turn off or restart your computer using your normal method via the Start button icon on the bottom left taskbar, then Shut down or Restart. If the fake warning website covers your full screen where you cannot see the Start button icon, press the Windows key ( or located near the bottom left corner of your keyboard) which should bring the Start menu to the foreground.
3. If neither of the above methods work, press and HOLD the power button on your computer until it turns off.
After turning your computer back on and/or opening your browser, don’t go back to the website or email that you had visited immediately prior to seeing the pop-up.
Over the years we’ve written various articles about AT&T/Yahoo email being plagued by account security issues, bothersome ads in their webmail interface, forced password resets, spam messages sent to user’s contacts and more. The revelation that over 500 million Yahoo accounts have been compromised in recent years leads us to once again advise people to stop using AT&T/Yahoo Mail, and switch to using a more secure and reliable email provider such as Gmail.
In May 2020 AT&T once again changed their login procedure, and began blocking use of the website if you use an ad blocker.
An important security option for online accounts is 2-step verification – neither AT&T/Yahoo or Charter/Spectrum email accounts offer the option. Therefore we recommend that you ditch your internet provider’s email service and switch to Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook Mail.
If you’ve got an Android smartphone, you should already have a Gmail address associated with the Google account required for your phone. If you don’t already have Gmail, it’s easy to get a free address and setup your account – and we can help.
Switching email providers can be a hassle. But we can setup the initial change for you, and give follow-up guidance on how to systematically inform business correspondence of the change over time. We’ve got a step-by-step procedure that includes (but not limited to):
Over the years many clients have reported to us that their Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL email account has been hacked. They first notice the problem when they are alerted by their email contacts claiming that they are receiving spam emails with links to prescription drug or work-at-home websites, or a plea for money after losing their passport while traveling overseas.
When attempting to login to their email some will discover that their password has been changed and they are unable to access their account. Others have reported some or all of the following changes:
All contacts have been deleted
“Reply-to” address changed
All email being forwarded to a different address
Email signature added or changed
The language changed to Spanish or Arabic
If your Yahoo or AT&T/Yahoo account has been compromised, below are some helpful links:
If you’re happy with our service, please let others know by recommending us to your friends and family, and/or by writing a review about our service. If you personally recommend us to a friend or relative and we help them, you get $25 off your next service call.
Why trust someone who “knows” computers and works on them in their spare time? Why trust someone who you called from a pop-up ad on your computer? You shouldn’t! Computer Techs is a local business that works with computers and related devices on a daily basis and has been doing so since 2003. When you need help with your computing devices, you can trust Computer Techs to be there when you need us, and stand behind our service.
When people search for Computer Support or Repair Services on the internet, they often search Google, YellowPages.com or Yahoo Local. Please consider letting others know about our service by posting a review at one or more of the following web sites:
One of the applications that you may hear about to keep your online connection more secure is a virtual private network (VPN). This is a service that basically takes your internet connection and reroutes it through its own servers before connecting you online.
VPNs are sold by lots of companies using FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) tactics. These companies make promises of encrypting your online connection and keeping your data safe. However, some of them have been found to be not very private after all.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN is a service that will route your online traffic through one or more of its servers. These servers can be anywhere in the world, and at times, you may be using different ones.
The VPN is designed to encrypt internet traffic and make your online connection secure by being a middle man between you and the internet.
Trying to enable a VPN on your own can lead you to have software and other computer problems that make it necessary to go searching for Reno computer repair techs just to undo what the VPN did to your system.
Before you get scared into thinking you need a VPN, you’ll want to check out our list below of the reasons that you don’t really need one after all.
When you connect to a VPN, you are routing your traffic through a third party. This is like taking the long way to go to the grocery store. Instead of connecting directly from your internet service provider (ISP) to the internet, you’re taking a detour through a VPN service that could be thousands of miles away.
This detour can slow your connection speed, especially if the VPN server is across the ocean in another country. This can lead to buffering frustration when trying to watch streaming services and worse quality video calls due to slower internet.
Can Cause Login Problems Due to Location Differences
Not all applications play well with VPNs and you may start having login problems. This can especially be the case when logging onto sites that look at your location to determine the type of content to serve you.
You may also find that you do a Google search like usual, but all the search results are in another language. This can be because the IP address of the VPN server is coming from a certain country so the site thinks you are located in that country and is providing content based upon that server location.
They’re Complicated to Use
Because a VPN changes how you connect to the internet, it can be complicated to set up and use. It may end up conflicting with other processes you have going, such as file sync with online cloud storage.
This type of app is difficult to adjust so it’s not conflicting with any online or hard-drive-based apps. Uninstalling the VPN may be the only way out of an issue that has occurred after it was installed.
They’re Illegal in Some Countries
Some countries restrict internet content, and the use of a VPN to get around that restriction is prohibited. So, if you travel overseas and use a VPN on any of your devices, you could be breaking the law without realizing it.
May Be Storing Your Online Data Without Your Knowledge
It’s been found that many VPNs store your online session data, despite the promises made on the company’s website. Some may be governed by laws requiring them to store that data, and others may do it out of carelessness or for more nefarious reasons related to selling it.
If you use a free VPN, you need to be very careful about this, because if you’re not paying anything for the service, then it’s most likely you (your data) is the revenue generator for the business.
There are Better Ways to Protect Your Data
A VPN is not the best way to protect yourself and your data while online. There are other options that don’t require you to route all your internet traffic through a third party.
Some of these options include:
Use of a DNS Filter: A DNS filter blocks malicious websites even after you’ve clicked the link for one. It will redirect you to a warning page instead.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA):MFA is one of the best ways to keep your online accounts secure, and it’s free. You should enable this on every account that you have. According to Microsoft, MFA blocks 99.9% of fraudulent sign-in attempts.
Email Filtering for Spam & Phishing: An email filter helps keep dangerous emails out of your inbox that could trick you into opening a malicious file attachment or visiting a phishing site.
Come to Us for Your Online Security Needs!
Computer Techs helps Reno area residents reduce risk by employing online security best practices.
Contact us today with any questions or computer needs.
Google announced in May that it would start automatically requiring users to adopt two-step verification as a security precaution when they sign into services such as Gmail. That plan, which the company said would expand by the end of this year to 150 million users on mobile and desktop, has now started.
What is two-step verification?
Passwords, no matter how strong, may not actually be the best way to keep online accounts secure. Two-step verification, sometimes referred to as two-step authentication, reduces the chances of hackers or other outsiders gaining unauthorized access to your information. This usually means adding an extra security step to log in, like a code sent to your phone via text or a voice call, or a code generated by a Google Authenticator, that users must enter in addition to their usual password.
Why is this happening now?
Google has been encouraging its users to enroll in two-step verification for the past few years. The company has also moved to reduce the need for its users to enter passwords and pushed the use of secure tokens, which instead allow users to sign in to partner websites and apps with a single tap. In addition to the 150 million user accounts Google will automatically enroll in two-step verification this year, creators on sister service YouTube will be required to turn it on by November 1 to access their channels. Google expects that all of its users will eventually be required to login using two-step verification, the company told Fortune.
What’s going to change for me?
You can check whether you’re already enrolled in two-step verification through Google’s Security Checkup. If you’re not, it’s likely you will be eventually. Users who regularly sign in to their account, use Google products on their mobile devices, and who have recovery information on their accounts, like a recovery phone number or email, will be among the first to be automatically enrolled. But if you’re annoyed by the idea of signing in twice, don’t worry. After setting up two-step verification on your computer, you can choose not to use it again on that particular device, and go back to using just your password when you sign in. It’s only when someone else tries to sign in to your account from another computer that users will still have to go through the two-step verification process.
It’s easy to vilify large tech companies. They hold a lot of power over our online lives. One organization that people like to point to as a monopoly is Google. The company owns over 91% of the worlwide search market share, but it got there for a reason.
Google’s business model is to give people searching online what they want. So it’s in the company’s best interest to make your online life easier. Keeping people searching on its site allows Google to continue running a successful ad business to earn revenue.
Yes, it’s true that you do give up some of your information to the search engine in exhange for using its services (including YouTube, which Google owns). But the trade in Google’s case is a fair one for many.
It’s important to know who you can trust when you’re online so you can keep your personal data protected as much as possible.
Why is Google not such a bad guy? Here are several reasons why we like Google.
Computer Techs recommended videos is a YouTube playlist consisting of our favorite videos that will educate the viewer about computer and technology related scams, usage tips, and sometimes a funny video that gives us a good laugh. Be sure to press the “Subscribe” button to get notified about new videos that we add from time-to-time.
Whenever you need help with your computer or anything related to technology, please contact your Computer Techs technician.
You can also visit the YouTube playlist in the future by typing youtube.CTreno.com in your web browser address bar.
Microsoft’s latest version of their operating system – Windows 11 – was released October 5, 2021. It looks and behaves a bit differently than Windows 10 and has some new features, yet many things haven’t changed at all. While Windows 11 will work on many computers manufactured since late 2017, it’s still just an optional update since Windows 10 will still be supported until October 2025. Windows 11 comes preinstalled on new computers going forward.
You may be wondering what our advice is about getting Windows 11. At this time we don’t feel that there’s a compelling reason to upgrade your existing computer to Windows 11 due to the following reasons:
Windows 10 is fairly stable and secure
Windows 10 has most of the features (and then some) that most people want or need
However if you’re shopping for a new computer it will likely come with Windows 11 – and that’s okay. For more information about Windows 11 click here, or watch the Windows 11 event video in 60-seconds below…
All major web browsers have the option to save the login and password for the websites that you visit so it’s easier to login the next time you visit a site. If you don’t already have a password system to create secure and memorable passwords, or a password manager to store your logins and other secure information – your browser’s password manager can securely store logins for you and will suggest a strong and unique password for new websites that don’t have a saved password yet.
If you don’t want your logins visible to anyone looking at your computer, make sure your computer is password protected. Here’s where you’ll find the password manager for the most popular web browsers:
Google Chrome: In Settings > Passwords, you will find your Saved Passwords, and the ability to view, edit or remove passwords individually. There’s also an option to use Google’s Password Checkup to “Check Passwords” to keep your passwords safe from data breaches and other security issues.
Microsoft Edge: In Settings > Passwords, you will find your Saved Passwords, and the ability to view, edit or remove passwords individually. There’s also an option to “Show alerts when passwords are found in an online leak”.
Mozilla Firefox: In Settings > Logins and Passwords, Firefox Lockwise will display your logins with the ability to view, edit or remove passwords individually. There’s an also a default option to “Show alerts about passwords for breached websites”.
Safari: In Preferences > Passwords, you will find your Saved Passwords, and the ability to view, edit or remove passwords individually. There’s also a default option to “Detect passwords compromised by known data leaks.”
iOS/iPadOS: In Settings > Passwords you will find your saved passwords that are used in conjunction with the Safari browser. Also check out the “Security Recommendations” to “Detect Compromised Passwords”.
Android: Open the Chrome App > More > Settings > Passwords.
You can also find out more about information leaked in data breaches and check to see if your email address has been exposed at Have I Been Pwned and Firefox Monitor.
If you’re used to calling your neighbor or doctor by just dialing their 7-digit phone number – things are about to change. Beginning October 24, 2021 you must dial 10-digits to reach any number in the 775 area code – and most area codes in the United States. If you dial only 7-digits you will be instructed to hang-up and re-dial using the 10-digit phone number.
The change is so that callers may reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing the 3-digit number “988” – similar to dialing “911” for local emergencies.
Now is the time to start updating the phone numbers stored in your cell phone to the full 10-digit number.
Some web pages – particularly articles on news and informational websites – have become nearly unreadable and full of distractions over the years with flashing and inline ads, videos, and unreadable fonts. Reader Mode can make many web pages easier to read – and it’s as easy as toggling it on or off. In this article I give instructions on how to enable reader mode (if necessary) in today’s most popular web browsers – and how to toggle it on or off for many web pages.
To use Reader Mode on Chrome it must first be enabled in a special settings area:
1. Type this into the address bar: chrome://flags/
2. Search for “Reader Mode” to show the Enable Reader Mode settings shown below. Click on the dropdown box and click on Enable.
3. After you relaunch your browser, Reader Mode will be available to toggle on/off on many websites via an icon near the right-end of the address bar – as highlighted above by the magenta circle.
Reader view is built into the Firefox browser. If the page has a Reader View, you will see an icon near the right-end of the address bar.
Click on the icon, and the browser will reload the page in Reader View.
Firefox offers some options for its reader mode that allow you to change font, size, and background color.
Reader View on Edge can be toggled on/off on available websites by clicking on the greyed-out book icon next to the favorites star.
When you click it, it will turn blue, and the Reader View of the page will load.
In Safari on macOS and iOS, “Show Reader View” can be accessed by clicking the left-side of the address bar, then “Show Reader View”.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has released its annual report. The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion.
Topping the list of types of reported internet crimes was phishing, which more than doubled last year. People over 60 were the most common victims according to the report. Nevada had the 8th most complaints of the states and territories included in the report – yet it is the 32nd most populous.
The phishing category also includes vishing, smishing and pharming – all techniques via email, voicemail, text messaging or via fraudulent websites that attempt to trick victims into divulging personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
People over 60 were the most common victim – likely due to the age group growing up in a more trusting society and their less understanding of technology.
Perhaps most surprising is that Nevadans reported the most complaints per thousand people than any other state.
In summary, become educated on how to spot internet crimes so that you or someone you know doesn’t become the next victim.