Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Can you tell the difference between a safe email and a scam?

* Can you tell the difference between a safe email and a scam?

Gone are the days that you could easily spot an email scam by poor grammar or a suspicious email address. Email scams have become more sophisticated, use smart tricks and often appear to come from large companies such as your bank, UPS or Paypal.

A shocking 45% of people are fooled by email scams and face consequences such as financial loss or identity theft at some point in their life. Here’s what you need to know to guard yourself against the top scams going around today.HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

Today’s quote:Okay, I cannot say this without being very direct. If you are looking for a spouse or even a romance through social media, you are looking for trouble.” ~ John Patrick Hickey,

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 2, 2015 Posted by | computers | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Windows Technical Department

I just got a phone call from some Indian claiming to be from the “Windows Technical Department”; he addressed me by name, and he started to tell me that there were serious problems with my computer, but I told him he is a vile criminal, and hung up on him.

This was my second such call this week. So be aware, folks, the fake Microsoft tech support phone call scammers are still quite active. Remind your friends and loved ones of this fact, and tell them that no way, no how, are such calls legitimate. Maybe even refer them to this resource:

Keep these other tips rules in mind:

  • Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
  • Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
  • If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
  • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.

See, that’s the nice thing about our modern ‘flat earth’ (globalization/”world-wide web”): you don’t have to only worry about the bad actors in your town, but every bad actor on the planet can reach into your home.
Yippee yahoo.

Today’s quote:View your life with KINDSIGHT. Stop beating yourself up about things from your past. Instead of slapping your forehead and asking, “What was I thinking,” breathe and ask yourself the kinder question, “What was I learning?” ~ Karen Salmansohn,

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 1, 2015 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet scam, security | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Do NOT Call This Number..!

AKA Norton Users Be Aware

I just received an alert from an alert reader (ahem) which demonstrates a new twist on an old attack tactic.

Yup. That’s a fake. (One hint is the “Message from webpage” in the title bar.. [Norton is not a web program, it’s installed on your machine.])

The website you’re visiting is poisoned (and you probably have some programs in need of updates). Keywords, if you’re interested in learning more are “scareware” and “rogue anitvirus” (and maybe “poisoned website”, too).
*  Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues
* Why You Don’t Stand A Chance Against Cyber Crime

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

September 2, 2014 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, security, tech | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alert: Automated Verizon Call Is A Fake

Folks, I almost fell for a scam telephone “phishing” phone call reporting to be from one of my cellular service providers. I think hope you are going to want to read my ‘confession’, and forward this warning to all your friends and family.

See, truth is, I did fall for it, but fortunately the trap did not close on me, and I did not give away my personal information, which (probably) would have been used in an “Identity theft”. (Or, they might have just glommed my credit card.) Me! Mr. B. Paranoid.

verizHere’s how it worked (and why I thought it was real):
I have been very busy helping people un-Windows 8 their new Windows 8 PC’s (bypassing the “Metro” UI, mainly) and so I found the message on my answering machine. It was a ‘recording’ woman’s voice. What I mean by that is it was an “automated” call. Anyone who has navigated a telephone “menu tree” (“para Espanol, pulse dos“) has heard this voice. “She” was, in a way, familiar. And “spoke” perfect robot-English.

The automated message identified me by name, said it was an “Important message regarding changes to my account status”, said I needed to call today, and provided me a 1-800 number to call and told me I would be asked to enter my cell phone number.

It pronounced my names correctly, and identified my Verizon phone number correctly. It repeated itself appropriately, and was – to put it simply – professional and exactly how I would expect an ‘alert’ call to sound. It sounded to me exactly the same as other legitimate calls I have received — such as our County’s “emergency alert system”, and my bank’s “unusual activity detected” calls.

But what really made me “bite” was, I knew that I had been “meaning to get to” paying my latest Verizon bill, but had put it off, then forgotten, in my busy-ness.. Had I delayed too long? Was this a pay-or-get-cut-off call? Could be.

So.. I called the 1-800 number to see what was up. And it rang once and disconnected. Thankfully!

I am not beating myself up too much, as I was juggling a lot of activity (aka “multitasking”), but at that disconnect, I did what I should have done first, I went to my computer and logged in to my Verizon “My account” and looked for any alerts, notices, or big red letters saying “PAY NOW OR GET CUT OFF”.. or anything that might explain that message on my voicemail. I did see a very mild “past due”, but nothing else.

Now I was quite intrigued! So I called the Verizon customer service number posted on the website (1-800-922-0204) and spoke with a young man who asked me several questions.. then asked me to play the message to him.
And he told me, “that’s not us. That’s a scam.”

How did he know? “Our robot voice is different, and that’s not one of our telephone numbers.”

Like I would know those two things.

So.. “in conclusion”.. I am abashed and embarrassed. This call had the earmarks of a phish, but I let those things .. not raise red flags. But this was undoubtedly the most professionally done phishing scam I have witnessed. A truly “pro con” (job). And, I guess I learned that I am not quite as “paranoid” (alert and wary) on the telephone as I am when online, and surfing the web.
And maybe I ought to quit trying to do three things at once, and pay more attention to one thing at a time.. But I feel stupid none the less.

Today, it was Verizon. Who knows what company they’ll impersonate next. I’ll never ‘trust’ another robot voice again!

So be aware. And be wary. They are trying to get us.

Dang. I feel dumb. Go ahead and laugh at me if you want. But I feel darn lucky too. What would I have given away if the call had gone through? What does untangling one’s self from Identity Theft cost these days? Don’t find out.. and don’t let your friends and family find out. Tell them about me, this call, and my dumb move. Let them laugh at me too.. and maybe raise their ‘paranoia’ as a consequence, and avoid scams like this.

I cannot print how I would punish the perps behind this one, if I could get my hands on them, but I can tell you I’d do it on TV.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 28, 2013 Posted by | advice, cellular, cyber crime, hackers, mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spot Fake Facebook Profiles + More

You may find it hard to believe, but I spend hours calling in for tech support..

Click on image to see larger

I have found it a common notion that computer nerds Über Geeks never have to call the Tech Support number, and spend an hour on hold, climb the phone trees, and go through “tech support” *heck* like mere mortals do.
But most do.. well, let me rephrase that: I have, and do.

Generally, I am calling on behalf of a client (I have spent a lot of time talking with ISP techs..) but also do when I need to. Just because I am a whiz at PC’s doesn’t mean I know what to do when a Garmin GPS unit won’t update it’s map library, or that Canon digital camera stays on the logo in the LCD ‘viewfinder, or what that one particular QuickBooks error might be.. (I don’t use QB.)

And no. I don’t ask to speak to the supervisor right away… but I have learned a few lessons from being on both sides of the call. Here’s a couple of my personal tips for a smoother, quicker, and hopefully more pleasant “tech support call”.. the next time you have to bite the bullet.

1) These people HAVE to follow a certain process, or they get fired.

1a) The first step of that process is to ascertain that you are a REAL owner of their product/service – that means you will have to identify yourself (perhaps, by knowing an account number..?) so be prepared.

1b) Their next step is ascertain if the product/service is still covered under their warranty policy/terms of service. Usually this is done by telling them the serial number and model number, so be prepared. These numbers are often found on stickers on the back or bottom of the device.
And these numbers are quite long, contain 8’s that look like B’s.. or maybe 3’s. Do both of you a favor and get the flashlight now, and the magnifying glass, and grab a pencil and scrap of paper, and crawl under that desk and get those numbers and write them down.

Now we can talk about the trouble.
2) No, tech support types do not assume you are an idjit, and didn’t think to check the batteries/reboot/look to see of a wire came loose. The truth is we would be idiots if we didn’t ask you to do those things. Those things are Step 1 of almost every troubleshooting situation. And if you do not do them.. well, I imagine a tech would feel darn silly when after 3 hours of trying all the hard fixes, they tell their client, “your unit needs to be replaced”.. and the client then says “uh.. wait a minute.. is this blue cord supposed to be plugged in?”

2a) The tech you first speak with (called “Tier 1”) WILL get fired if they call over a supervisor for an assist, and they have not crossed off the loose wire/reboot off of their checklist. Supervisors do not have time to ask “did you try rebooting it?” That – in a nutshell – is Tier 1’s job description: screen out the easy ones.
So just play along. Humor the poor Tier 1 – just say, “okay, hold on..” count to 3 in your head, and then say “nope, still the same.” Now Tier 1 can get down to more advanced techniques, or call over the supervisor/Tier 2.

3) Remember that these people are human beings and that they answer calls like yours all day, every day, all week, all month. (Try to imagine doing that..)
Yelling at them may relieve some of the frustration are feeling, but it won’t get your problem fixed any faster.
And they might just tell you to right-click on C: and select “format”.


I kid!


Let’s review: Be prepared to provide the ID they want, and be forearmed with the serial number (the S/N) and play the game (um.. “follow the process”) they have to follow (or get fired). And be polite.
Tech support is not a “cushy job”, it is stressful.. and makes one’s hair turn gray.
(I could tell you stories..)

Or, instead of calling them, you can hire me.

Alright.. now to today’s title:

How to spot a fake Facebook profile

How do you spot a fake Facebook user? People have many strategies, including looking at the content on their Wall, checking their mutual friends, and/or just scanning for anything out of the ordinary. Security firm Barracuda Networks has taken it a step further in a study titled “Facebook: Fake Profiles vs. Real Users.” Read more..

These are interesting…

Facebook, Twitter more addictive than alcohol, tobacco

What’s more addicting than alcohol, tobacco, and coffee? Apparently, your desire to check social networks and to stay employed trumps all else, including urges to sleep and have sex.Read more..

(Written by a Linux blogger, this next hits the nail better than any other article I have seen yet..)
Five reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival

Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Vista will have several things in common: Both are unwanted operating system updates that will flop in the marketplace.” Read more..

And.. last but not least:

10 threats to The Golden Age of the Internet

Have we been taking the Internet for granted? See why we might soon find ourselves reminiscing about the days of unfettered use and free access.Read more..

But wait! There’s a bonus! How would you like $800 worth of software, free?

• A reader wrote in with a tip for where to get some valuable titles – FREE! To see what I mean, read their comments here. (And thank you, Dear Reader.)

Today’s quote:What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” ~ Yiddish Proverb

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 7, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, free software, Internet, tech, Windows 8 | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Skype Malware Now Attacks Apple?

Chat Message Scares Reader Into Installing Malware

Surprise! Today I was reminded that criminals are once again using Skype to send phishing “chats” in an attempt to defraud you and trick you into installing a virus. So, I am – again – re-posting this article. It is the exact same ruse I first warned of in early 2008, but (again) the name has changed, as well as a few other details…. see if you can spot them.

Today a Skype chat window opened on my machine, and presented me with a dire warning from someone named “Software Update”, “Registry Scan Online®”, “”, “OnlineRegistry®” Today’s flavor (I think it was “Update Instructions”..).

It said that “WINDOWS SYSTEM REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION” and, it provided me with a solution… a “repair utility”.

Please, folks, tell me you have spotted this for what it is. Please tell me that you knew –instantly– that this is a cybercrime attempt; that it is Phraud-ulent. (I mean.. there are clues aplenty!)

Please tell me that you know what will happen if the link provided in this message is clicked; and, please, please, please tell me you would never click the link.

This “hacker” criminal attack will reappear every so often (roughly every 90 30 days) with a slightly different name and URL… It is a classic scareware attack. They just send these chats to all the Skype users whose name starts with A.. then to the B’s, then C’s.. etc.

Just in case you aren’t sure:
*Software Update”, “Registry Scan Online ®”, Today’s flavor, doesn’t exist.
*”, “”, Today’s flavor, is not registered in ARIN (the registry of Internet addresses).
* clicking the link will allow scripts to run, and/or take you to a poisoned Website which will install malware on your machine, or/and it may take you to a site that will sell you a rogue anti-spyware program (please read my article, Is that antispyware program really spyware?).

* Microsoft DOES NOT alert you via Instant Messaging. No legitimate company does. Period. Ever!
This is a classic example of a hacker’s attempt to get you to click their link.

All of this so they can rip you off. It’s these cyber-criminal’s full time job.

Please point your less-savvy friends and family to this article and educate them to the dangers of spam (unsolicited) messages and tell them– NEVER CLICK THE LINK. (Yes, I am shouting. 2010 is days away 2011 is here, and I still have to say this everyday.. Sigh.)

Note: while this article directly references the (VoIP client) Skype, you may see this type of thing in other Instant Messaging/Chat programs, and social networking communications.

[addenda: Peter Parkes (Skype Blogger) wrote and asked me to remind my readers to, quote, “Please report users who send these messages to – that will help us to block them where appropriate.”]

… Folks.. well, let me put it to you this way: if this concept is new to you, and comes as a surprise; if you never heard of such a thing .. that someone could make a window pop open, and tries to scare you into providing your credit card number, and will put viruses on your machine.. if you “googled it” because you were not sure if this “alert” was ‘legit’, I am going to do you a favor: I am going to suggest to you that you seriously reconsider the nature of the Internet. And suggest you subscribe to my email newsletter. (This stuff is so old now, and so well known, I almost don’t bother to post it. Where have you been?)

IRS phishing already???Please Update Your Details

These guys never quit, folks. ‘Cuz there’s a sucker born every minute. Please don’t be one: use some good, healthy “paranoid common sense” when online.

BTW — if something works on Windows, it ain’t gonna work on Apple (and visa versa). That’s a clue..!

Today’s recommended reading: A FREE Way to Monitor Your Kids Online Activity
If you are a parent who has children who use the computer to access the internet it is very important that you educate yourself and your child about the dangers of the internet. It is important to have strict guidelines in place on their computer usage and a method to supervise and monitor their online activities.

Today’s free downloads(s): I have assembled on my Website a collection of links to the best free anti-malware programs to help you prevent infection.. and clean up if you’ve been infected. To see them, click here.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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January 24, 2011 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Warning To Firefox Users – Fake Update Installs Malware | SUPER-Contest Deadline

If you use the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser (as I do) and you see this,


immediately hit Alt+F4 to close Firefox (or use Task Manager to kill the firefox.exe process [An Overview and Tutorial on the Windows Task Manager]).. it would also be a good idea to start a Full anti-malware scan.

Why? Because this is a carefully crafted criminal cyber attack which is attempting to trick you into clicking a link that will install a fake (aka “rogue”) antivirus program. This page sure looks real, but it is 100% fake. (It has been a while since I mentioned rogues here, but everybody should know about them by now, right? Right. If you don’t, click here, Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues)

The full story of this (current) attack is here, Fake Firefox Flash Update is Rogue. I bet this one is going to nail a lot of people… Hey. Cyber Czar. You see this *stuff*??? Think there might be a problem?

In happier news..

** SUPER Software License Giveaway Ends Tonight **

To help celebrate SUPERAntiSpyware’s recent inclusion in VirusTotal’s premier file analyzing service, the good folks there at SUPERAntiSpyware (known in the biz as “SAS”) have generously donated some Professional Edition licenses to me – “lifetime” licenses no less – to award to my readers.

SUPERAntiSpyware is a program for combating spyware and Internet threats. Today’s Grand Prize retails for $200, and features software I have endorsed from Day One.”
For details (and to enter), click here.

The contest ends at midnight (Pacific) tonight, so don’t miss out – act now.

Today’s recommended website: Should you suspect that you have been cyber-attacked, and/or you want to make sure nothing has slipped past your onboard defenses (and trust me, it happens), and you have Internet access, head over to Microsoft’s Windows Live OneCare safety scanner and Get a free PC safety scan. Windows Live OneCare safety scanner is a free service designed to help ensure the health of your PC.

  • Check for and remove viruses
  • Get rid of junk on your hard disk
  • Improve your PC’s performance (it examines and repairs your Registry)

Today’s free download: Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that helps guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Get high-quality, hassle-free antivirus protection for your home PC now. Free. Lifetime.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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July 29, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , | 18 Comments