Sunday, May 21, 2017

Avoiding Tech Support Fraud

Have you gotten a call or a pop-up message that says your computer has a virus? And then you're told you need to hand over remote access to your computer to fix it? You're not alone. Americans lost an estimated $1.5 billion to scammers posing as tech company employees. No matter what tactic they use, scammers have one purpose: to take your money.

Read more about this in the AARP Article: Learn how to protect yourself from scammers

Also download the booklet from Microsoft and the AARP Fraud Network: Avoiding Tech Support Scams

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Article Share: Renting out your car, RV, boat, gear and photography/video equipment.

Sharing this article from Kim Komando on renting out your car, RV, boat, gear and photography/video equipment.  For those who have an RV, or a boat or photography/video equipment that just sits around most of the time, you can rent it out and let it earn for you.  Or for those who've always wanted to try out an RV but didn't really want to own one, there's a site that makes it easy to do this.  Click on link to article below.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Security Software SCAM

A lady left me a voicemail indicating that they found a security breach on my computer.  Below is the text of her voicemail, and you can also click on this link to listen to her message.
Security breach on it. Please call 855-855-9833. I repeat 855-855-9833. Thank you. This call is in regards to the security software we installed on your computer last year. Now he see a red flag on our end stating there is a security breach on it. Please call 855-855-9833. I repeat 855-855-9833. Thank you.
They were very persistent, leaving me 8 voicemail messages in the past week, so I decided to call them and see what this was about.  They also left me different phone numbers in their various messages.  One was 855-855-9833, another one was 855-855-9611.  The first time I called back, it just kept playing music on their end and after a few minutes the call ended.  That probably meant they were busy working with other callers.  But yesterday I was able to get through.

The person I spoke to knew who I was from the phone number I was calling from which suggests they use some kind of call center software to provide information on their callers and on their database they can track my call and enter notes about my call.  I played like I didn't know much about computers and that I was using a very old computer running Windows XP.

The agent wanted to connect to my computer (he asked me to go to and I indicated that I had dialup so I'd have to get off the phone for them to connect to my computer.  He then transferred me to another agent who suggested that it's OK that I have dialup as they can still connect to my computer when I get off the phone. 

He sold me 2 plans, one was for 1 year of network security for $149.99 and another one for 3 years of network security protection for $249.99.  I told him my computer is 13 years old and asked if there was a plan that was even longer than 3 years, and he put me on hold to ask his supervisor, and he came back with a lifetime plan for $499.99 ... the best deal he said as it would last me a lifetime and was transferable to a new computer if I ever decided to upgrade my 13 year old PC.

So I continued to play along and they said to keep my computer on and they will call me back after half an hour to confirm the software installation and proceed with billing.  They called me back after 20 minutes and the agent said your network security software is complete so I can now transfer you to billing.  I told him I had kept my computer off that whole time, and he said, it's OK, the software still installed that time ... so he probably thought at this point that I was really clueless. 

I kept on playing along and they transferred me to billing and they asked me to send them a check paid to "Tech Chance LLC" for $499.99 to 2417 Jericho Turnpike, #362, Garden City NJ 11040.  I decided to look up the address and there's a UPS store with mailbox services in that address but there are also other businesses including a few technology related businesses in that address.  I asked if they also accepted credit card payments, and they said checks were the only payments they were receiving at this point --- probably because one can dispute a credit card payment once you know you fell for a scam.

So what is going on here?  It's a shame that businesses like these continue to flourish and take advantage of people who fall for their messages indicating that your computer security has been breached.  Not a week goes by without my seeing a client fall for this type of scam and after talking to them yesterday, I can see how convincing and professional they sound.  When I played clueless about my computer, they were patient, and were technical enough to answer some of my questions about Internet Explorer.

Now that I'm on their database, they will probably call me back and sell me more services ... not sure what else they can sell me though since I had opted for their lifetime service, but maybe they'll ask if I had mailed them the $499.99 check yet ...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 Wish List

Here's my tech wish list for 2015
  • Parental controls on the youtube iPad app (and better parental controls in general on youtube content on the web)
  • Multi-user login on iOS (specifically on iPads)
  • Sony RX100 IV with a longer zoom (I love the 24mm wide angle but would love the range to go back to 100mm)
  • Native Outlook synch with iCloud and Google contacts and calendar
  • Google chromecast 2 with a remote control (to stop and pause) --- similar to the Amazon fire TV stick remote control
  • Digital photo frames that are Android based
  • Hybrid Touchscreen Macbook (with a mode that converts to an iOS screen --- similar to how the Microsoft Surface Pro can switch from the windows 8 Metro screen to the classic windows Desktop screen)
  • iPhone mini
  • Blackberry Classic on Verizon (and one that can also run most of the popular Android apps like Uber, Instagram and Google Maps)
  • Apple watch that's not tied to an iPhone

Friday, November 14, 2014

Raffle Tickets still available for the iPad Mini 3, Google Nexus 9 tablet and Kindle Fire HDX!

We still have raffle tickets available!  3 great prizes --- iPad Mini 3, Google Nexus 9 tablet and Kindle Fire HDX.  We're only selling 150 tickets @ $25/ticket!

Purchase Raffle Tickets

The drawing is tomorrow (November 15) at the Building Hope benefit at the Howard County Conservancy.  If you are unable to attend the event, we will notify you if you are the winner by mail, email or phone.

The Building Hope benefit is for the Educational Scholarships and Healthcare Programs of Tapulanga Foundation in the Philippines.  For more information about Tapulanga Foundation, visit

Friday, August 22, 2014

Scam Alert: Phone calls from Microsoft, Companies who pretend to be Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple, etc..

In the last few months, many of my dear clients have been lured to give control of their computer to people who pose to be Microsoft technicians (or HP, Dell, or Apple support) and they pretend to find something wrong with your computer and try to sell you their services to clean your computer.  Please be very wary when someone on the phone wants to take control of your computer.  The modus operandi is they will ask to take control of your computer and they'll plant a virus or some kind of software that will show you fake messages indicating that your computer has hundreds of infected files, and then they'll ask you to purchase their services.  If you refuse to purchase their services, they will insist that the problem is very serious and the price they're giving you is even lower than it would normally cost you.

The typical traps are as follows:
  • You'll receive a phone call from someone pretending to be from Microsoft and they'll say they've detected some viruses coming from your computer.
  • You go online to Google, and search for "Microsoft Support" or "HP help" or "Dell Support" or "Apple Help" and you get search results with ads for companies that are pretending to be official representatives of these companies.   
  • Below are the search results and NONE of the phone numbers listed are for the companies they're pretending to be.  These companies are only out to victimize you and their only intention is to sell you their harmful software and services.

So how do you protect yourself?

If someone from Microsoft calls you, just hang up unless you actually have a friend from Microsoft who calls you once in a while.

If you need to contact Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple or some other computer company, go to their website and find their phone number there.  Or if you prefer to search on Google, go further down the list and the correct phone number for these companies are usually listed further down on the search results.   

The key information is the website being listed.  Look at the actual website URL and you'll notice that is really from a company called  When looking at a website URL, take note of the last section of a URL before the "/".   For Microsoft, the address before the "/" should end in  Be conscious of the "/" because some sites could use an address like "" and that is still not an apple site as the last section before the "/" is really

Ads on Google

These search results are really ads on Google.  You'll notice in the list above that there is a yellow label that spells "Ad" right before the website URL of these companies.  Unfortunately many users don't really notice that these are ads and Google places these ads at the top of the search results page for the sole purpose of giving these companies a higher chance to be noticed.  Google makes money when someone clicks on those ads, so the better the ad placement on the search results page, the more likely Google will make money.

I have no problem with Google trying to make money from their search pages, but when misleading ads can cause harm and damage to consumers, they should take some responsibility and block these kinds of ads.