Quick Post about Phone Scams

Phone Scams/ Phishing Scams

Lately I have been hearing a lot of people talking about receiving calls from fake Microsoft representatives claiming that malicious software has been found on their PC. Of course this is a scam, but I am surprised at how little information there is on this topic. I know that this is a common problem for many PC users and I feel that potential victims need to be better informed. Phone scams (aka Phishing Scams) are a real problem and the more you know about them the better your chance of protecting yourself.

It is important to note that Microsoft will never call you and tell you that there is an issue with your computer. This would be too large of a task for Microsoft to try and accomplish. There are millions of Windows users and no practical way for Microsoft to call up random people and inform them of there computer problems. Any call about your computer should be considered suspicious until they are able to prove without a doubt that they are legitimate.

First of all, you should know the risks involved in communicating with these criminals. They can cause a lot of damage once they obtain certain pieces of information. The main key is to protect your private information and to not communicate it out to them. This is what they want and they will say and do anything they can to try and take it from you. When they have your information there are many different methods of using that information. Identity theft should be the biggest concern of anyone talking to a stranger over the phone. Once you provide enough info, a criminal can easily gain access to your private accounts and personal life. Never give out information such as names, phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.

Another main method of obtaining information is buy requesting remote access to your computer. Giving permission to remotely access your computer is a huge mistake. Doing this is the same as handing your PC over to the criminals. Once they gain access to your computer there are endless possibilities for them to obtain information or harm your computer.

For example, once an individual remotely connects to your computer he or she can install Malware, Adware, or other harmful infections. They may also download your personal files and records. Many people will be tricked into thinking that they are actually fixing a real problem with the PC, while they secretly perform these harmful acts in the background. Do not be fooled by there false claims even if they are able to show you on screen that your computer is “infected”.

If the scammers gain access to your computer and you realize they are doing harm the easiest way to stop it is to unplug the internet connection or turn off the PC as quick as possible. Pressing and holding the power button is the fastest way to turn off your computer and prevent damage.

Any time that a remote connection is completed by one of these computer criminals, the computer should be checked over by a computer repair professional. Only attempt to check over the computer yourself if you are knowledgeable. Simple virus scans and basic protection methods may not always find infections or other changes made by the criminals.

While Microsoft and other professionals know of these scams it is virtually impossible to stop them from completing these scams. The problem is that there are just too many of these threats popping up all over the world. It would take an army to stop these criminals. Therefore it is up to each individual user to protect themselves and become knowledgeable about how to avoid these potential scams.

Now remember, if you get a call from someone telling you that your computer is infected say “no thank you” and hang up! And always stick to the local repair guy for your computer needs.

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Fooled By Facebook – Social Networking Scams

You are scrolling through your news feed on Facebook and you see “click like for a chance to win a brand new IPad!” Guess what! It is a scam and whoever is behind it wants nothing more than for you to scroll your mouse over and hit that like button. Unfortunately, Facebook is littered with posts that have every intention of stealing your log in credentials or simply taking advantage of your friends and family. Every time you click on one of these infamous posts, you run the risk of becoming a victim of click bait.

You might ask: What can I watch out for and how can I tell the difference? Well the answer is really simple. If it is too good to be true, then it is usually a scam. Nobody hands out free IPads on Facebook for no apparent reason at all. What they will do is seduce you into clicking on there post and then sell the page that hosts the link to people willing to pay thousands of dollars for it, because 80,000 people thought they would get a free IPad for liking the page. These people then make money off of the high traffic to this sight from advertising revenue and other online money making techniques.

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There are many different methods used to try and draw your attention to these posts and to attract your interest. Some techniques are more sophisticated than others, but they all cause the same amount of trouble. Here is a brief explanation of some of the most popular Facebook scams:

  • New Sealed Free Electronics
    • These are those posts that encourage you to like them in order to win some brand new electronic worth hundreds of dollars. 99.9% of the time there are no free IPads or IPhones.
  • See Who Has Viewed Your Profile
    • This is not possible, especially because Facebook is strict about your privacy and does not share information like that with other users. Allowing people to see who is viewing there profile would violate the Facebook User Agreement.
  • Change the Colors and Features of Facebook
    • Once again Facebook does not offer any special features allowing you to change the way Facebook is set up. Its a standard look for everyone with very little customizing options. Facebook blue is not going anywhere so there is no point in trying to change it.
  • Breaking News and Shocking Headlines
    • These are always my favorite scams because they are just crazy enough to really grab your interest. I will never forget the one that got me. The post was titled “18 Dead in shocking roller coaster accident”. Just a simple completely false news article that lead you to a site containing malware and other harmful software.
  • Share and You Will Have Good Luck
    • This one is easy… sharing posts does not bring you good luck!
  • Give Money for Every Like
    • Most of the Facebook posts with pictures of sick children or people in unfortunate situations are not real. Sadly scam artist will find these pictures and try to get you to feel sorry for the individuals so that you will like there post and spread their malicious material.
  • Its Really Works Type Posts
    • These are always my favorite to come across because they are so ridiculous. These scams will tell you that if you click on the post a certain way something on the screen will change, but of course nothing ever happens. These are just another attempt at convincing you to click on a post.

Now that you know the basic concepts of how these scams work, it is important to remember that you should never have to re-log in to Facebook after clicking a post. If you do click a post and it asks you to re-log in then its a phishing scam. How these scams work is by tricking people into logging into a fake Facebook log in page that really only captures their log in info and tells them that there sign in attempt has failed. Be very careful of these scams because of the damage they may cause. Always look for the green security lock at the beginning of the URL before entering any log in information.                     Security Lock Pic

Also, keep in mind that there are many different types of scams on Facebook and no way for me to cover every specific one. In my opinion, it is important to use common sense when scrolling through your news feed and think before you click. If you accidentally click on one of these scams don’t panic… change your account password and run a virus scan because you can never be to safe.

Dangerous Deals – The Risks of Online Coupons

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What Is Online Coupon Printing?

Online Coupon Printing is used to describe the methods used to receive coupons available from various websites. These coupons are usually downloaded and then printed so they can be used. Typically websites make users register an account and fill out surveys or perform other required tasks to receive the coupons. While there are many sites that offer legitimate coupons and can be trusted, others may have more criminal intentions. Because a lot of the coupon printing websites require special software to be installed onto your computer, these programs can be viewed as a security risk to a user’s privacy. Many of the programs required to print coupons come with files containing malicious software such as malware or adware. Of course this is not true for all online coupon printing websites, but it is becoming more common to find malicious intentions from these sites.

What Are The Risks?

Unfortunately, the risks involved with coupon printing are high. Many of the individuals falling victim to these issues and threats are not properly educated on the risks. For example, malware and adware are a very common issue with people who participate in online coupon printing. Every time you download coupon printing software you run the risk of installing unwanted addons and software. These are typically programs that sneak in and cause issues with web browsing or network activity.

Another example of the dangers of coupon printing is information security. To explain, many coupon printing sites require the user to register an account with them. This means that the user must first provide an email address and password. The problem with this is that many people use their main email account and the same password used in other online accounts. For instance, the user may use the same email and password they use to log into Facebook. Of course the problem here is that if the website offering the coupons is a fraud, then the user just gave them full access to their Facebook account by providing them with their email and password. All it takes is for someone to try that login information and they will gain access.

Are You Already Infected?

How do you know if your computer is already infected with malicious software? There are a few things to look out for when it comes to the computers behavior. First, look for issues in your web browser itself. Things like extra toolbars, automatic homepage switching, pop-ups, and slow loading speeds can all be signs. Also, it is usually easy to spot the software on your computer because of the names used for these programs. Here is a short list of common malicious coupon software and addons:

  • BeeCoupons

  • BetterBuys

  • BiggestDEALS

  • Coupon Alert Toolbar

  • Coupon Genie

  • Coupon Printer

  • Coupon Alerts

  • Deal Vault

  • FindMeSavings

  • Offers4U

  • PriceSlicer

  • SavingsHunter

  • ScorpionSaver

  • Conduit Search

One of the more common programs called Conduit Search is software that causes many different issues on a computer. It has been known to change your homepage to random websites. It sometimes adds unwanted toolbars and browser extensions to your web browser. It also can cause websites to not load and cause your browser to crash unexpectedly.

It is important to scan your computer on a regular basis with an up to date antivirus program. This can help to catch malicious programs before they cause damage to your computer.

How Do You Print Coupons Safely?

Now is the point where your probably asking: How do I know where to get good coupons? The main thing here is to make sure your using legitimate sites to receive your coupons. The best thing you can do to check if a site is legitimate is to read reviews of the site. Do a Google search and see what people are saying about it. Also, good anti-virus software is a must whether your printing hundreds of coupons or just one. Anti-virus programs are a must for anyone browsing the web and should never be left to expire.

To continue, if the website is asking you to install something onto your computer to print a coupon its a red flag. Take your time with this step to make sure the software is safe and doesn’t have any unwanted programs attached to it.

The last step and probably the most important step of all is to not use your main email account when registering on coupon websites. Create a free email account using yahoo, gmail, or one of the many other websites that offer free accounts. Make sure you create a unique password for this account then use this it to register and receive the coupons. This will keep any malicious sites away from your personal information.

Setting Up a New PC

Did you get a New Computer for Christmas? Have you set it up properly?

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Many people do not realize that new PCs are not ready to go out of the box. They typically require a few precautionary changes before you should actually use them.

Here is a list of things that are recommended:

-Download and Install Windows Updates

-Install or Activate Proper Virus Protection

-Create a System Restore Point in case a repair is needed

-Set up a proper Network Connection and Protection

-Store a copy of your Windows Activation Key

-Remove Adware or other junk programs that came preinstalled

-Most importantly create a Standard User Account for everyday computer use (save the Administrative Account for Repairs and Updates)

While some of these items may seem easy to do, others may be more difficult for some people. As always Reasy Computer Services is here to help with setting up your New Computer at any time! Give us a call: 814-977-5101