How to send a message from your phone correctly

This may happen to you: A few times each month I get an email delivered to my junk/spam folder from an address such as If I happen to recognize the 10-digit phone number before the “@” symbol I can recognize who it’s from, and respond accordingly. But often times it goes unnoticed or unopened.

When sending messages from a smartphone you typically have 2 options – a “Messages” app and an “Email” app.

The Messages app is meant for sending short messages – usually 160 characters or less – to the recipient’s phone number. The message can be accompanied by one or more photos. If you incorrectly send a message to an email address, it goes through your wireless carrier’s SMS-to-email gateway which converts the message and appears to the recipient as an email coming from “your-mobile-number”@”your-carriers-gateway” – as described in the beginning paragraph of this article. Messages typically cannot be read on a computer – they are meant for mobile-to-mobile communications.

The Email app is meant for sending an email to the recipient’s email address. Emails can contain lots of text, photos, short videos or other attachments, and can be recognized by the recipient in their as originating from your display name and/or email address.

The next time you originate a message or email from your mobile device, make sure you are addressing the recipient in the correct app and correct format – using their 10-digit phone number or email address appropriately.

Can you spot a scam? Take the quiz.

How well can you spot a scam? Take the following quizzes to help protect yourself the next time you get an email, text message, website pop-up or phone call.

The 3 golden rules to thwart scammers

Can you spot when you’re being phished?

We can help with many computer issues without coming out to your home

A majority of our customers already take advantage of our remote support service

Remote Support allows us to see your computer screen and operate your keyboard and mouse via your internet connection. This can be helpful if you need a quick-fix to a problem, or other service that doesn’t require an in-home visit. Or perhaps you’d like service outside of our normal in-home daytime business hours. With Remote Support we offer a lower 1/2 hour minimum rate of $49, whereas there’s a one-hour $99 minimum charge to come out to your home. Payment can be made via credit card on our secure webpage at the completion of the service.

Remote Support is available for most services, including (but not limited to):

  • Troubleshoot web browser redirects and fake scare warning screens
  • Help with recovery of forgotten passwords and hacked accounts
  • Virus/malware/adware/pop-up scan/removal
  • PC slowdown issues
  • Software problems
  • Microsoft Office help
  • Data backup and recovery
  • Preventative/proactive maintenance
  • Email setup/customization
  • Training/tutoring

Remote support is not available if you don’t have a connection to the internet. Please contact us if you have questions.

To get started, while talking with your technician on the phone we will have you go to our web page at then download and run a small “Remote Support” program. The program will present you with an ID and temporary passcode to tell us, which will allow us temporarily access to your computer only for the duration of the call.

Give the gift of computer help or service

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.

How to clean and disinfect your screen, keyboard and mouse

Cleaning and disinfecting your screen – including the one on your smartphone or tablet – as well as your keyboard and mouse can be done with some common items that you most likely already have around the house.

For cleaning your computer and smartphone screen you can use a soft lint-free cloth and a mix of isopropyl alcohol and water or disinfecting wipe. Turn off your device before cleaning, be careful not to scratch the surfaces or allow liquids to seep into any holes, and allow time for the surfaces to thoroughly dry before turning it back on.

Cleaning your keyboard includes turning it over to knock loose any debris. Then a small amount of isopropyl alcohol and water mix or disinfecting wipe can be used clean the surfaces of your keyboard and mouse.

For more information see this external article.

Why you should keep your computer ON when not using it

If you use a desktop computer, we recommend leaving it ON when not using it. Here’s why:

  • Your computer does important maintenance tasks when “idle” – basically the time when you walk away from it for 5-10 minutes or more. To be idle the computer needs to be left ON – not in sleep mode, standby, logged off, nor powered off.
  • Maintenance tasks include scanning for and installing Windows Updates, virus/malware scans, disk defragmentation, and any other updates that may be regularly checked by other apps.
  • If you are in the habit of turning on your computer, doing your business, then immediately turning it off – your computer may never get the chance to do maintenance tasks, or may eventually try to do them while you’re trying to use the computer. This can cause your computer to be much slower while you’re trying to use it.

If you use a laptop computer, we don’t recommend leaving it ON all the time, but rather leave it idle for a few hours once a week so that it can perform maintenance tasks while you’re not actively using it.

The rare occasion that we recommend turning the computer off is if there are currently thunderstorms approaching your area, or high winds that may cause the power to brown-out or completely go out. In those occasions it would be good to unplug the power and wired internet cables from the computer to help prevent any electrical surges from damaging it.

What you need to know about the Summer 2017 Equifax data breach

Updated 7/31/19 to include Equifax Data Breach Settlement information:

In July 2019 Equifax agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories. The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach. For more information including a lookup tool to see if your data was affected by the data breach, see the following official FTC website:

Beware of scammers who’ve put up fake websites meant to look like the official website. Also you may receive unsolicited email or phone calls from scammers who may try to charge you to file a claim, or ask you for private information such as your social security number.

Originally posted 9/11/17. Updated 9/13/17 to include information from Consumer Reports:

Equifax, one of the large credit reporting agencies in the U.S. recently announced a data breach that may affect 143 million Americans. In case you’re not familiar with the population of the United States, that number is equal to just about every adult who’s ever applied for credit. Initial reports indicate that exposed data may include names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. Note that Equifax DOES NOT have access to passwords to your financial accounts.

[Read more…]

Email scam uses data from breached websites to craft authentic looking email – How to check if your data was exposed

A new email scam has been quickly spreading with different variants that claims to have hacked the recipient’s email account and includes a password used by the recipient. One variant further claims to have caught the recipient looking at pornographic websites, and demanding “ransom” in the form of Bitcoin payment to prevent the release of webcam photos being sent to all the recipient’s contacts. An example email is shown below.

If you’re the recipient of such an email you may think “how does a hacker break in and know my password?” The answer: they didn’t hack your account.

Here’s how they have the information: Data breaches from companies such as LinkedIn, Yahoo and countless others have exposed the email addresses and passwords of millions of users. Clever scammers have taken widely available information from the data breaches and crafted emails that forge the recipient’s email address and insert a password used on a breached web site. With the addition of potentially embarrassing information, the “sextortion” scammer asks for money in the form of Bitcoin to prevent the release of information to everybody in your contact list (which they don’t really have).

In summary, just ignore/delete the email and change the password on any websites that match the password in the email. You shouldn’t be using the same password on multiple sites anyways.

To find out if your email address(es) have been exposed in a data breach, you can safely enter your email address in the following website:

Is your smartphone or tablet slowing down? Closing your open apps could help.

If your smartphone or tablet is slowing down, closing your open apps could help speed it up. When you “close” most apps on a smartphone or tablet, it actually remains in memory running in the background. Over time you may have dozens of apps running in the background which can make it feel slower. Read the instructions in the articles below to close open apps.

How to force an app to close on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Find, open & close apps – Android Help

FBI urges home users to reboot their routers to disrupt the spread of newly discovered malware

Netgear router power cable plugged in

Netgear router with power cable plugged in. Image courtesy of listing at

The FBI is urging owners of routers used in most homes and small offices perform a power-cycle (reboot) of their device to help disrupt the spread of a newly discovered malware targeting such devices. Vulnerable routers include popular devices from Netgear, Linksys, and TP-Link – however this is not a complete list.

A reboot is done by unplugging the thin/black power cable from the rear of the router, waiting about 15 seconds, then plugging it back in. After a few minutes all of the lights on the front of the router should return to normal and your internet connection re-established.

If you need help with rebooting your router, call your internet service provider at the phone number listed on your bill for assistance. If you own one of the router brands mentioned above, you can contact Computer Techs and we will reboot your router for a nominal fee.

For more detailed information about the VPNFilter malware, security journalist Brian Krebs has a detailed article here.

If your router is older than 5 years old, learn more about replacing old insecure devices, and installing firmware updates on newer devices by reading Is it time to replace your Wi-Fi. Computer Techs installs router firmware updates as part of our check-up & updates service, as well as our scheduled maintenance plans.