Help! I’ve Been Scammed

Help! I’ve Been Scammed…Contributed by RescuTechs

Have you fallen victim to a PC support scam? Did you get a message on your screen urgently telling you to call the number on your screen, or you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Windows Support telling you your computer is sending out SPAM, or errors or possibly reporting a virus?

During the call, you get the feeling that something doesn’t seem right, but the person on the other end sounds polite and extremely eager to help you with your problem. In order to prove their case they will ask you to open your Windows Event Viewer and download TeamViewer or some other remote desktop control software so that they can connect to your computer to show you the errors and “fix” your problem. They will also ask for your credit card information so they can charge a small fee for their service.

If any of this sounds familiar, you have been victimized by the PC Support Scam, also known as the Ammyy Scam, Fake Microsoft Support Scam, TeamViewer Scam, or Tech Support Scam. The names may change, but these scams have been going on for years and have swindled millions of trusting people.

What do you do now?

The first step is to call your bank or credit card company as soon as possible. They more than likely have experience with scams and will be able to tell you what they can do about the fraudulent charges and adding a security alert on your account. If they do not offer to issue a new card to you, you should request one.

Once the charges are taken care of, the next step is taking care of your computer. It is critical to isolate your computer, especially if they successfully took control of your computer system. Turn off your computer. Or, at least physically disconnect your computer system from the Internet. Although you are no longer on the phone with them, the remote desktop control software may still be providing them with access to your computer. As well, they could install viruses or malware that that could harm your computer, cause data loss, or provide them ongoing access to your computer.

Then, you should engage the services of a reputable and skilled computer technician to remove any and all traces of malware and viruses. This may require the backing up all of your data and re-installing the computer’s operating system, or performing a complete system restore operation. When someone takes full control of your computer system, there is no limit to what they can do. You want to make certain that there was nothing left behind to cause you problems later on.

Once your computer has been restored, be sure to change your passwords. You may want to sign up for identity theft or credit monitoring protection so you will be alerted as soon as anyone tries to your financial or personal information.

Educate Yourself

Education is key to protecting yourself from scams. Learn from your mistakes because you can bet that the scammers are learning from theirs. They are constantly changing tactics, refining what works and discarding what doesn’t. Unfortunately, these scammers stay in business because we fall victim to the scams.

The PC or Microsoft Support scam has fooled many people because we tend to believe what we see.   Typically your caller ID will read Microsoft support or something to that effect. What many people don’t know is that scammers will trick you by using ”spoof” caller ID information which lends credibility.

The scammer will log into the spoofing service provider site. They will enter the phone number of the intended victim and give the fake or spoof information that they want to show up as the caller ID. The victim sees the fake caller ID believing it is real and they are now connected to the scammer.

It is illegal to falsify caller ID information, so if you believe a caller is trying to scam you and they have spoofed the caller ID, you can report it to the Federal Communications Commission. Do not give your credit card information to someone who has called you that you do not know. If you are unsure of the person on the other end of the line, get a call back number then look it up to see if they are legitimate or if the number is associated with a known scam.

Arm yourself with knowledge and keep these scammers at bay.

 

What’s the best way to prevent viruses

As a computer repair shop, we’ve seen our fair share of viruses.  And when our CEO asked everyone what we all personally believed to be the best way to protect yourself from malware and viruses in general, the answer was pretty one-sided. Common sense.

Common Sense

More than anything else, the best way to protect yourself online is by using common sense. Be careful what you’re clicking on, what attachments you’re opening, what you’re downloading, and who you’re trusting. Common sense is a really ambiguous term though, so here are some specific tips to help you out.

Browse with caution

Browsing with caution doesn’t necessarily mean being afraid to open up Yahoo or CNBC, but if you think a website or email looks sketchy or out-of-place, maybe skip it.  Phishing can take many forms: a Nigerian prince asking for money is obviously a ploy, but “Well’s Fargo” sending you an email saying you need to verify your information in the next 24 hours or they’ll close your account isn’t quite as obvious.  When in doubt, look for signs to verify the email is legitmate, like a phone number or contact information at the bottom of the email and verify that it matches with Wells Fargo’s actual number.

Make sure you’re on the right website

Take a quick look at a website’s domain to make sure you’re on the correct site before you submit personal information or download anything.  If you’re going to download Microsoft Office, make sure you’re on Microsoft.com, not Microsftoff.com.  It’s a small detail, but that’s exactly how people get malicious software.

Check for an SSL certificate

An additional security measure on websites is having an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer).  That’s the little lock next to the website’s name:

 

It essentially just means that any information sent to or from that website will be encrypted and is therefore much harder to access for any 3rd party.

Don’t click sketchy ads

If you’re going to websites to illegally stream your favorite shows or sports, you should probably be cautious, use an adblocker, and don’t click the ads you DO see on the page.  But if you’re the type of person to go to those websites, you probably know that already.

When all else fails: use your common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Our favorite antivirus = Windows Defender

Windows Defender is a program that comes on every Windows computer with Windows 8 or newer (also called Microsoft Security Essentials) and it does a pretty decent job. It’s downloadable for all Windows computers with older operating systems as well.

Why paid antivirus solutions come up short

Besides using common sense, you still need an antivirus. But that doesn’t mean you need a paid antivirus.

Essentially, many of those common “big” antivirus programs do exactly what you want to prevent: slow down your computer.  They often force bloatware onto your computer or make you download extensions that make your browser slow and clunky. It’s pretty ironic that the programs you’re downloading to STOP your computer from slowing down/having pop-ups will have the opposite effect.  If you don’t want to be constantly pestered by your antivirus your best bet is to just stick with the security your computer came with, because it’s definitely good enough.

Why Windows Defender is the best

How to Geek says it caught 99.9% of all “widespread and prevalent” malware.  According to them, it may not hit quite as many benchmarks as some paid options, but it’s good enough.  Frankly, you won’t notice any difference in protection between Windows Defender and Norton/AVG/McAfee.  What you WILL notice though, is how annoying that paid antivirus program is.

Windows Defender is smooth and runs in the background while it does its job. It will give you the rare notification that isn’t invasive or distracting, but that’s how you know it’s working. Plus, it’s free. And unless you really feel like financially supporting the antivirus community, free is always better.

Now that DOESN’T mean that you’re 100% protected all the time. Viruses and malware are persistent and you are always at risk of being infected – whether you have an additional antivirus program or not.

Even more protection: monthly Malware Scans

If you really want to double down and cover all of your bases, you can use a malware scanner once a month (or once every few months) to ensure that you haven’t picked up any malicious software. Malwarebytes has developed a good reputation for routine malware scanning, and they have both free and paid versions.

If you go with a scanner that is manually controlled – which we would recommend since you are already running Windows Defender in the background – just remember to use it. It’s not helping you if the icon is just sitting on your desktop. Make sure to run it every now and then!

Conclusion

These suggestions are for the average user for their personal computer. Large and medium businesses are obviously at more risk and will require more layers of protection for their network, because they have more to lose and attackers have more to gain.  However for personal use, most paid antiviruses hurt more than they help and you just shouldn’t worry about it too much.  Browse with common sense and stick with the basics.

Worst case scenario: a virus removal from a computer repair shop just like ours is always an option. If that doesn’t do the trick, a system reinstall will cure your sick computer and have it back up to speed in no time.

Computer Repair vs. Buying a New Computer

The following post has been shared by Garrett Tate of Don’t Panic IT Solutions, a Fort Collins Colorado computer repair company

Computer Repair vs. Buying a New Computer

We have all been there. Your trusty PC just doesn’t have the get up and go that it used to. You shop around for a replacement, but the prices you find send you right back to your old machine. Then it happens. One day your computer finally gives up the ghost, and you are left with a decision. Repair or replace? The age-old question of home computing.

I should tell you that I build computers for fun. There was a time that this hobby saved me a bit of money. However, those times have changed. Lately, I have been purchasing new computers because the prices have come down and the costs of parts have gone up. But that is for an entire machine. For repairs, it is often far cheaper to fix the computer than replace the entire unit, especially if your budget does not allow you to upgrade to a better PC.

Ignorance is not Bliss. It Costs You Money

The greatest obstacle to repairing a computer is ignorance of how computers are made. Yes, many of the components are very complicated, but you will not be working on those. Repairing the hardware of a computer normally means swapping out a bad part for a good one. And swapping out parts in a computer is easy because they are modular.

The Power of Modular Assembly

In modular design, a PC is just a framework for different parts to be plugged into. Computers use a very limited number of interfaces, or sockets and plugs. Most parts will fit into most machines. This means that if your computer dies and you decipher that the power supply is to blame, you can buy a new power supply and plug it into the remaining good parts. Voila! Computer repaired for around 30 bucks. All in around the same time it would take you to change a car’s battery. Sounds simple, right? It should because it is.

A friend called me to say he needed a new computer and wanted my advice. After gathering some facts, I offered to fix his slow, crashing PC if he would buy a $50-dollar part. He agreed so one afternoon I spent about fifteen minutes installing some solid-state memory in his machine and reorganizing where he kept his operating system and where he stored his thousands of image files. When I finished, his three-year-old PC was back on track, and I was a hero.

Home Computer Repair is Not Brain Surgery, but it Does Require the Power of Google

Neither of the problems above required any engineering training or exceptional intelligence to solve. I have neither. The solutions to each issue were found by searching Google and watching a YouTube video. The installation of the parts falls about at Lego level on the construction expertise scale. Seriously, anyone can do this. It just requires firmly believing that if something is already broken, it is hard to make it much worse. The cost of the part is the only real gamble.

Sometimes Repair is Not Worth the Time or Money

Occasionally I run into an issue where the cost of the parts, the age of the machine, or the amount of time required for the repair do not justify the project. That is when I shop for a new machine. But, I do not buy the latest greatest thing out there. I get a big case, and a solid CPU and the included operating system. Everything else I just upgrade along the way. Piece by piece.

 

FieldNation and Essintial

If you are doing work orders on FieldNation then look out for Essintial…Quite a few of their jobs are for preventive maintenance at Walmarts.

The work order states:

Under “Hide Confidential Information” it states;

SPECIAL ACCOUNT INFO:

***Any aborted site will be restructed to an $80/flat rate Unfinished Site payment.***

So I do a job for them and sure enough was turned away by the client due to them not being notified of the job. Apparently this was a common occurrence based on my call that night to the call center about the issue. So sure enough they reschedule it and send me again. I accept the work oder and show up and once again the manager on duty turns me away. So the same route, call the call center and let them know and they close the ticket.

Next thing I know I get paid less than $30 (after everyones cut) and their justification was “2nd retry only pay $30.00”. Problem is nowhere in the work order was this stated. So apparently the only one that knew about this whole “2nd retry” thing was Essintial….

Contacted FieldNation about the is and their answer ended up being. “It’s entirely up to buyer what they would pay you after reviewing a WO since they might take different/dissimilar decision’s based on provider’s performance. We suggest you to click on one of their available WO and decline it. It gives you an option to block the company when you do so.”

This makes absolutely NO sense at all. So it’s up to the buyer to change the terms and not notify anyone? And then I’m’ suppose to just “block the company”? So basically what FieldNation is saying is “we condone this type of practice”….Great job FieldNation.

Thumbs down for Essintial and FieldNation on this deal.

Humans of Technology

Site: http://humansoftechnology.tumblr.com/

I am putting together this new thing sort of like “Humans of New York” . If you have never heard of it you can check it out here: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/

Reason i’m doing it is, it’s interesting to me and in my 20+ years I have met and talked with thousands in the industry and always take something away from it. So I have thought about this for some time and I really think it would be a nice thing to throw out there for our industry.

Some of the differences is obviously I am not in New York and the one I am doing is not going to be about a city…Rather it is going to be “IT” (Information Technology) people from all over the world. Can be business owners, network engineers or anything related to “IT”.

That is where you come in. I’d like to have you on the site.

All that is required is this:

1. Picture….It can be of you, your family, you and your dog, you and your car, you at your store or whatever you want. But, you have to be in it in some shape or form 😉

2. Write something (this will go under the picture)…Now this can be really anything you want but a few thoughts are this:

What the technology industry means to you…

What do you see the technology industry moving towards…

Why you love the technology industry…

Heck you can even put in there about your family if you’d like….

Nothing extreme of course maybe a paragraph or two is about it.

Of course I will be glad to put your name, business name, location or whatever you’d like and I can even link to your website at the end of it.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/humansoftechnology

3rd Party Companies

Do you do work for 3rd party companies? If not then maybe it’s time to think about it and see if it might work in your business model.

The reason I bring this us is because many of you have employees and I always hear “what am I going to do on slow times”. Well sometimes doing work for 3rd party companies and be a filler for just that.

Now there are quite a few of them out there and i’ll only talk about a few that I have actually done work for in past. Many years ago I was doing quite a few of these jobs and the reason was simple…”the pay was very good”. But, now fast forward and the pay that some of them are offering is not very realistic and makes you want to just say “not going to do it”. I still think it’s worth looking into for the sheer fact that you don’t have to accept a job and you can also counter-offer a job with a different price.

Here is an example…A job comes in from FieldNation for a printer problem. The scope of the work says something like this:

“Printer malfunction error code 51.0”. Tech will arrive on site and run configuration report and then if error is still there will replace filter cartridge with new one. (the new one has already been shipped there).
Date/Time: Will show information
Location: Will show city etc..
Price: $65

Now you can either say yes to it or counter offer and ask for more money if you want. Really depends on your area and if you think others might be willing to accept the offer or if you think you might be the only one around to do the job in which case you can probably counter on a few things.

Now that particular job is one I actually did. Total driving time was about 20 minutes round trip. Time on site was roughly 15 minutes. So less than an hour for $65. if you are a one person shop then it might be hard to justify doing a job like that. But, if you have techs there is no reason you can not have them do those types of jobs during slow times.

Some of the companies out there are FieldNation, FieldSolutions, WorkMarket, Onforce and Geekatoo….At some point i’ve done jobs for all of them and have never had an issue with payment or anything else as long as you follow directions.

Summer Push

Summer is coming and with that comes a slow time for many business owners. Hopefully that is not going to be for you, but you never know…

Typically families are all planning trips, end of school, graduations, etc. The last thing on their minds is a computer problem.

With that in mind you still have time to contact your customers and do something that might change their thinking. If you have a list of previous customers (and I hope you do) send them an email/newsletter about a “clean-up”, “tune-up” special you are having and call it “Summer Special” or whatever you’d like. Also, if you have a Facebook page post it on their daily to get the word out. Of course if you use things like Craigslist then post it on there also.

If you have been marketing hard from the start of the year then hopefully it will carry you thru the summer months. But, if you have been lax then there is really not much you can do to correct that. You have to continually market and push in order to not experience that down time. Of course sometimes there is nothing you can do. But, if you have marketed properly then you know that you have done your best and ride it out.

If you are not good at flyers or content then go to a site live Fiverr and get it something done professionally that you can send out. MAKE SURE when you get someone from Fiverr to do your ad or whatever that you get the source files in case you put a date or just a year on it that you will be able to go back and change it for future use.

You still have a few weeks to get these ideas in action and hopefully pull in some customers for the June/July time frame……

Best of Luck!

IT Business Owners Group

If you have not heard there is a new group to the IT industry…

IT Business Owners Group, is a group dedicated to three types of people. People who own Computer Repair Businesses, technicians who consider themselves as top notch technicians as well as Vendors and those who work for OEM manufacturers.

IT Business Owners Group is designed for these three types of people to get together in a group and be able to ask questions to technology challenges and be able to get fast answers. This group is also the only group that is designed to bring OEM’s to a common place with the techs that are implementing the technology on a day to day basis, whether you are in the break fix side, managed service provider or an OEM vendor, this is the group for you!

IT Business Owners Group Facebook

IT Business Owners Group linkedIn

Facebook for SEO?

I know many business owners have a Facebook page for their business but do you have one for your city/town? If not you might want to look into it. I created one a few years ago and now it comes up on the 1st page of Google for “Computer Repair City Name” (City Name is actually the city we are based in. Not only do you admin the Facebook page but you decide what goes on it. You can put daily repair, tips or whatever you want and use it as a marketing tool.

If you have not done so already create your city computer repair page today, populate it with content, pictures etc and see just how well you do in the search engines.

The “blacked” out part is where you put your city/town name.

facebook_computer_repair

Customers and Smoking

Having been a smoker for over 30 years I think i’m somewhat of an expert in the field and I’m not sure that is a good thing.

I smoked ever since I had my first job at a bowling alley where I could get cigarettes behind the counter for free. From there I went
to boot camp in the Marine Corps and you could even smoke there. So there was never really a place that I encountered that you could
not smoke. Even a few of the duty stations I was at working in a network center you could actually smoke inside them at your desk.
So in my mind “all was well” in the world of smoking.

Now, just like everyone else that smokes I was continually told about the health hazards of it and what “could” happen to a person. Trust me when I say I thought about that numerous times but never really put it on the top of the list of why I should quit. I always had a better reason not to quit. If they would of said “at age ?? you will become sick” then that may of worked because it was for sure…but nobody ever did that.

Fast forward and i’ve had to have multiple back surgeries and my latest surgery was a neck surgery. My doctor has always said I needed to quit prior to surgery but of course “what does he know” is what I always thought. But, then this time for my neck surgery he said “the only people that have ever had a hard time healing from a neck surgery is smokers due to it does not allow the neck proper healing”…I listended to that and thought ‘wow, do I really want to go thru this again”…I know from past experience the recovery is never good and “if” I know that I am hurting my healing ability then I have nobody to blame but myself. Now trust me I also know he’s a doctor and is suppose to push the whole “quit smoking” but I have known him for years and I think our relationship is at the point where peer pressure doe’s not work and he knows that.

So I decided (5 months) ago to quit. I smoked an entire pack the night before my surgery (probably not the smartest thing to do) and decided at that point that I would quit. It’s now been five months and I have not had 1 cigarette, there have been maybe one or two times that I actually craved one but that passed quickly. I have no problem being around smokers or even going out to the old locations where smokers gathered at work and talked while smoking. My one fix for this is “vaping”. I started doing that as something to do with supposedly less harm. From what I read, have been told (even from doctors) that is in their mind 100% better than smoking. But, at some point I have a feeling that will stop also but for now it’s a fix that I will stick with.

Now, in business you deal with people on a daily basis either in your shop or if you are mobile in their homes. For the life of me I have no idea how I went all those years and did not think that I actually “stunk” like smoke. Now when I am around those that smoke I can smell it. If I am in a store in line somewhere and somebody gets behind me I can tell that they just smoked. I can only imagine how I must of smelled all those years in my dealings with customers. Yes, like everyone else I did the breath mints, spray etc but in reality I still stunk. It has to be a turn off and in hindsight I should of known this (or cared) at the time.

Believe me I am not now the “don’t smoke” guy or the one that says “I can be around smokers”…To me it’s “to each his own” and that is entirely up to you/them. If you smoke I can only suggest maybe try vaping and see if that quenches your desire. There are hundreds of flavors and devices to use and you might just find one that is a good fit. Plus, the financial aspect of it is crazy. Again, I would never quit even when I was shelling out $75 or more a week on the habit. To me money did not matter and did not justify quitting…

Think about it and maybe 2015 is the year to make it happen.