FTC warning consumers about new tech support scams – Here’s what you need to know

In their “Anatomy of an Imposter Scam” blog series, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) breaks down how to recognize, avoid, and report business and government imposter scams. Scammers are targeting people with pop-up warnings or calls claiming to have detected a virus on their computer. Here’s the rundown:

  • The Scam:
    • You receive a pop-up warning or a phone call claiming a virus has infected your computer, or a fraudulent charge on your account.
    • The scammer offers “tech support” to fix the non-existent problem.
    • They pressure you to give them remote access to your computer or phone.
    • Once in control, they might install malware, steal personal information, or pressure you to transfer large sums of money for fake repairs. They may even offer to transfer your call to the “FTC” or “FBI” so that they can “protect” your money.
  • What NOT to do:
    • Never call a number from a pop-up warning.
    • Don’t give remote access to your device to unknown callers.
    • Never transfer money or share personal information based on unsolicited calls.
  • What TO do:
    • If worried about a computer virus, contact your real bank or investment advisor directly using a phone number you know is correct.
    • Report the scam to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Many scammers impersonate more than one organization in a single scam – for example, a fake Amazon employee might transfer you to a fake bank or even a fake FBI or FTC employee for fake help.

Key Takeaway: Be cautious of unsolicited tech support calls or pop-up warnings. Verifying information directly with trusted sources and avoiding remote access to strangers protects your device and your financial security.

In their latest blog post the FTC is warning consumers about a new twist on tech support scams. Source: New tech support scammers want your life savings

If you’ve been a victim of a scam and need your device(s) checked out so that you are confident that they are safe to use, contact Computer Techs.

Charge Smarter, Not Harder: Maximizing Battery Life in Your Devices

Let’s face it, dead batteries are never convenient. Whether you’re on a call, streaming a movie, or crunching deadlines, a depleted battery can throw your tech-powered day into chaos. But fret not, battery-conscious friend! By understanding how and when to charge your devices, you can extend their lifespan and keep them powered up longer.

Debunking the myths:

First, let’s clear the air on some common misconceptions:

  • Myth: Leaving your phone plugged in overnight damages the battery.
  • Fact: Modern devices have safeguards to prevent overcharging. However, it’s better to avoid keeping your battery at 100% constantly.
  • Myth: Letting your battery drain completely before charging is good for it.
  • Fact: Deep discharges stress the battery and can shorten its lifespan. Aim for moderate charge cycles.

The sweet spot for charging:

Here’s the key: most lithium-ion batteries, used in almost all modern devices, thrive in the 20-80% charge range. Aim to keep your battery within this sweet spot as much as possible. Here’s how:

  • Smartphones and tablets:
    • Charge when the battery reaches 20-30%.
    • Unplug at around 80-90%.
    • Avoid full charges and complete drains whenever possible.
  • Laptops:
    • Set battery thresholds in your settings (e.g., stop charging at 80%).
    • Remove the charger when not actively using the laptop.

Beyond the numbers:

Remember, these are general guidelines. Several other factors can impact battery health:

  • Extreme temperatures: Avoid hot environments, which can degrade battery performance.
  • Fast charging: While convenient, it can generate heat and stress the battery. Use it sparingly.
  • Low-quality chargers: Stick to certified chargers to avoid potential damage.

Bonus tips:

  • Optimize settings: Reduce screen brightness, disable background apps, and turn off location services when not needed.
  • Invest in a power bank: For extended journeys, keep a portable charger handy.
  • Monitor battery health: Most devices have built-in battery health indicators. Keep an eye on them.

Laptop-specific tips

While keeping your laptop plugged in all the time won’t cause immediate harm, there are a few reasons why it might not be the best practice for long-term battery health:

Battery stress: Although modern laptops have safeguards against overcharging, keeping them constantly at 100% can put stress on the battery. Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, and full charges count as one cycle even if you plug and unplug frequently throughout the day. This stress can contribute to a faster decline in battery capacity over time.

Heat generation: Plugged-in laptops often generate more heat, especially if the charger or surrounding area is poorly ventilated. This additional heat can shorten the lifespan of other components inside your laptop, like the processor and motherboard.

Reduced mobility: Being tethered to a power outlet limits your laptop’s portability, defeating the purpose of having a “lap”top you can easily carry around.

Risk of power surges: While rare, sudden power surges or fluctuations can damage your laptop, even if it’s plugged in. Unplugging it minimizes this risk.

Reduced lifespan of the charging adapter: Keeping the charger plugged in constantly puts stress on its components, potentially leading to earlier wear and tear.

Energy usage: Even when not actively charging, plugged-in laptops still draw a small amount of power. If you’re environmentally conscious, unplugging it when not in use can help conserve energy.

However, there are also some scenarios where keeping your laptop plugged in might be beneficial:

  • You use your laptop primarily at a desk and rarely unplug it.
  • You frequently use applications that demand high performance, requiring constant charging.
  • You have a faulty battery that drains quickly.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to keep your laptop plugged in depends on your individual usage patterns and priorities. If you’re concerned about maximizing battery life and ensuring optimal performance, it’s generally recommended to follow the 20-80% charging rule and unplug your laptop when you don’t need it.

By following these tips and being mindful of your charging habits, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your phone, tablet, and laptop batteries. Remember, a little awareness goes a long way in keeping your devices powered up and ready to go!

Remember that Computer Techs can help you understand the complexities with desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and “dumb-phones”. We even help with smart/internet connected devices around your home such as smart speakers and assistants, and streaming media players that connect to your television. Contact us for more information.