About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 1, 2017

Phone Spoofing

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:15 am

Time for Ron to do a little whining as two things have recently popped up that bug me.  I figure they may also bother a few of you.  They are local phone number calls and Facebook tracking us.  This week Phone issues, next week Facebook.

I posted to Facebook (this is not about tracking yet), and talk to people about it, when it comes up, that I am tired of all the “fake” phone calls I get from local numbers.  I feel like I should know them since they “look” like numbers of family or friends.  They are always from area code “540” with prefixes like “476,” “478,” “433” and others of local origin.

And many times, immediately before or after those calls, I will receive one from another toll-free number.  They are all obvious ads or scams.  When I do not answer, which was often and is now all the time, they rarely leave a voice message.  If they do leave a message it could be the IRS telling me that all of my resources are being taken as they speak.  My bank accounts, home, furniture and cars are all being taken for taxes I owe.  It may be an advertisement for a monetary investment, buying gold, funeral arrangement deals, insulated windows, cars, contests I have won, etc.

1 ringy dingy - Lilly Tomlin

Faking phone numbers is called “spoofing.”  Spoofing is when the caller knowingly fakes the data sent to your caller ID on your phone.  This disguises their real number.  It is usually used to trick the called person into giving away personal information for criminal reasons.  U.S. law and FCC rules forbid most types of spoofing.

You may say, “Well surely this is illegal in the US.”  But the FCC has the “Truth in Caller ID Act.”  This act states that they prohibit, “…any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.”   But guess what?  If they have no intention to harm anyone or cause anyone to be harmed spoofing is not illegal.  I would like to thank US lawmakers for allowing spoofers to call and bug me several times a day.  Since they rarely leave a message in my voice mail they are not harming me…other than mentally.

So I have a plan to fight number spoofing, in my own little way.  If anyone calls me who is not in my address book, (I only have a cell phone) I do not see their name on the phone display and they do not leave a voice mail message I do not answer.  I will then block the number and delete it from my phone.  That number will never be able to distract me again.  If it calls my phone it gets dumped into the void.

So basically, if you call me for any reason I suggest you leave a message if I do not answer.  I could be busy or maybe your name does not show up in my phone.  Either way if you leave no message you will be blocked.

Someone said that I may miss important calls.  For instance, from a doctor, hospital, distant relatives or regarding prizes won.  It has been my experience when “real” people want to get me they give a message so I will get back with them.  But whatever, after I block a few bazillion numbers maybe it will calm down.

April 25, 2017

Schemes, Part 5

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:44 am

As I told you last week this group of schemes are used on one specific part of our population.  Seniors, baby boomers and post baby boomers.  They even have titles.  I have found examples of these all over the net and my dad even experienced one of these years ago.

Counterfeit Prescriptions
Because prescription prices are high like all other medical costs seniors and others shop around online for less expensive prescriptions.  They are easy to find online.  This is where you may get ripped off twice.  Many times, the scam artists are selling bogus or inferior drugs.  Then you have wasted your money and your health declines.

Which one is the fake?

Funeral Scam
Some criminals read the obituaries every day and some may even attend funerals of seniors.  They will find as much information as they can about the survivor, especially contact information.  Then a week or so later the widowed person will get a call saying that their spouse owed them some money and they were supposed to collect it and now they are gone.  They get the bereaved to pay unwarranted charges. This is usually perpetrated in person.

Loving Grandparent Trick
A grandparent will get a call from a young person pretending to be their grandchild.  They may speak unclearly so that the senior thinks it is their grandchild with a cold.  They get the senior say the kid’s name and then work it further.  The final outcome is that they need the grandparent to mail them money at college, someone’s home, or have it wired to their account directly.

Grandma is so good to me.

Internet fraud
These scams include a call from someone claiming to be from a large computer company asking for permission to access the senior’s computer remotely to resolve a service issue or virus.   The bad guy then accesses saved data on the computer, such as names, addresses, account numbers, and other personal information. They use the information to apply for loans, credit cards, or to steal the senior’s identity.

Medicare/Medicaid fraud
Medicare’s universal coverage makes it easy for perpetrators to pose (either on the phone, in person, or via email) as Medicare representatives and ask seniors to provide personal information which they can then use to set up accounts or apply for credit cards.

Nigerian fraud
You know you have heard of this one, maybe even seen it in your inbox.  In one of the most common financial frauds of all time, a senior citizen receives a letter, an email, or a fax from a foreign “dignitary.” The correspondence promises huge monetary rewards in exchange for helping an official from a foreign country out of an embarrassing legal problem. All the senior needs to do, the correspondence states, is to send a small amount of money (in comparison to what he/she will receive in turn) to help out the foreign dignitary. Of course, the victim never receives any rich reward and loses the money that is sent.

Service scams
You receive a telephone call from what seems to be a legitimate company. There are problems with your account and the company simply needs to verify some information. The caller seems to already have information about you so you feel comfortable sharing additional information, such as your account number, to help the company correct the problems with your service.

So, be careful out there, no matter what your age!

April 4, 2017

Schemes, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:45 am

Today on Part 2 of looking at different schemes that are knocking on our phones, emails, and even doors we will look at a couple which have hit me recently.  I am no different from you, so if I am getting them some of you are too.  So here are your alerts, warnings and call to be cautious.

How about those offers from Netflix you just received?  I got this one yesterday.  At first glance it appears to be from Netflix.  The logo is in the upper right of the email so it must be official.  The email explains that if I do not click the “Click here to verify your account” button and fill in the blanks it asks for my Netflix account will be closed.

However, let me tell you several other things about this “scary” email.  The first thing I noticed is that there are some typos.  The salutation is, “hello,” all lowercase. ALERT!  Some of the grammar sounds strange like, “…will result in suspension Netflix.”  Notice the missing parts of speech and similar sentences with comparable bad grammar. ALERT!

Next, there were two links in the email.  One was “Netflix Support.”  I did not click this link as I have warned you about many times here; however, you can hover a link with no ill effects.  When I hovered over that link it popped up and was actually the Netflix Help site. GOOD.  Then I hovered the “Click here…” link mentioned earlier.  When it revealed itself, it was for some strange site in France. ALERT!

imageThe final straw for this email trying to get my login information, or worse, is where they sent it.  It came to my most commonly used email address. ALERT!  The one I used online all the time, for this site, for logins to blogs, RSS feeds, etc.  It can easily be found online.  I buy nothing with that email address.  I use a completely different email for purchases online.  And this includes Netflix.  They fell into my trap and sent it to an account that has had no dealings with Netflix.  That is a guarantee that it was a scheme/spam.  I have advised you before to get one email address for buying online ONLY. Do it if you have not done so yet.

I have given you several alerts that you can easily check in an email…use them!  Most importantly…NEVER, EVER click links in emails that ask you to login to validate, verify or check something online.  If you are concerned that it may be an actual email from a company, open your browser and log into the actual site like “”  While there you will be alerted if you actually need to validate something for them.  Note that this is a rare occurrence.  I have been contacted by sites like this before but only because someone tried unsuccessfully to get into my account.  They emailed to let me know that I should change my password.

By the way, I received two emails from Amazon over the past two weeks.  They were even worse than this one.  One of them spelled Amazon as “Amozan.”  Spelling errors will not be found in actual emails from large companies.

Amazon pays people to check emails before are sent out.

June 24, 2014

Do Not Do These Things, Part 3

I was not planning on having a "Part 3" to this series; however, Marion recently sent an interesting email. This situation does not have anything to do with the web, email or any other things I usually write about.  Nevertheless, it is a real personal security concern.

Marion emailed about a "Social Engineering" scam which is becoming more of a concern most every day for everyone.  These can hit you even if you do not participate on the internet, email, or any other tech areas.  This one is known as vishing, or voice phishing. 

She said they received a suspicious phone call on the home land line. However, this could also hit your cell phone.  A man with an accent was telling her that their computer was "leaking out information."  This is common line.  Then they ask you questions about your computer, maybe the version of Windows you use, your computer name, or your username and password.  They may ask you anything about your computer, your bank account or any other personal information.  They usually (but not always) have a heavy almost unintelligible accent which will get worse as they go along. 

Marion said, "We gave him no information whatsoever."  That is the absolute best thing you can do.  If you have not contacted any company for help just hang up on them.  They are trying to get info out of you and use it for disreputable reasons.

spam via phone and web ( would be surprised at how many people go along with this "official" inquiry.  People have given away bank account information and then proceeded to loose thousands of dollars.

Never give anything out to an incoming caller.  If you get a call from any company asking you any information or giving you a website to log on to about your information or accounts, hang up immediately and call the company directly.  Ask them about it and you will get a definite, "Don’t do it!" response from the real people.  Banks and any other reputable company will never contact you to ask for information. 

Microsoft has even put out messages reporting support scams that are supposedly coming from them.  Like all of these scams the scammer may not have a lot of technical information, but rather a smooth talking trickster which plays on the general public’s fear.  They will tell you things like they just received a warning that your computer has been hacked or invaded.

We used to call these folks, "flimflam artists."  In today’s vernacular they would be called scammers.

There is even one for corporate environments called, "tailgating."  Many companies have very strict rules regarding tailgating which can end an employee’s career if they allow it.  This usually involves companies with an electronic keyless entry system; however, it can be used with regular keyed locks too.  You, being regular employee, come to work and use your key to get in.  An honest looking "employee" whom you do not know walks up along behind you and you let them enter the building with you.  You have just been tailgated into the building by someone who should not be there.

Being careful should be everyone’s number one priority today.

October 24, 2011

2011-10-24 WSVA Show Notes

Here you go, the news, links and sites we mentioned today on the show.  And don’t forget you can listen to the podcast of the show here.

Have a great month and I hope you hear from me then!


Tech News

Ford vehicles will read you text messages while you drive
Ford is installing a feature in its new vehicles — and many of its older ones — that can read text messages out loud.

The feature, which is intended to reduce texting while driving, is part of Ford’s voice-activated technology, Sync, and is already installed on all model 2012 Ford vehicles with the exception of the Ranger.

Using a Bluetooth connection, it syncs with phones and alerts users when they receive text messages, reads them out loud and allows users to respond with a selection of standard pre-written messages without taking their hands off the wheel.

Google Unveils Driverless Car Tech
Self-driving car technology was unveiled by Google, the pioneering search engine turned car maker.

The website’s co-founder Sergey Brin announced Wednesday that 10 percent of the company is working on innovative projects outside the web domain — the first of which is the building of "autonomous" cars.

The driverless vehicles, which travel through normal roads under the instruction of computers, are designed to help people with mobility issues and to combat congestion.

For info on how it actually works check it out at IEEE Spectrum.

Virginia Law regarding driving and cell phones usage.

Let Me Google That For You
People ask you a question about something that you know would be easy to Google; just send them a link from this site.

Type in the search and it creates a link you can email them and then they just click it and get the search.

Try these –> and 

Who Calls Me?
This is a user supplied database of phone numbers of telemarketers, non-profit organizations, charities, political surveyors, SCAM artists, and other companies that don’t leave messages, disconnect once you answer, and simply interrupt your day.

If you received a strange call, unwanted SMS message, or just came across a number you don’t recognize and want more information about, most likely you are not the only one. Search for this phone number to see the reports of others. If there are no reports yet, leave your comment to start a conversation.

If the number you searched for isn’t in their database, you can add it to the list and see if someone else knows about it. Other users will post to your listing over time.

Also, they have a look up on the site where you can pay to find more information on many numbers.

A site that lists many of the Facebook scams running around from time-to-time. Also, a blog about them with some "Funny Pages" thrown in for fun.

It actually appears as though it could be a quite beneficial site over time.

Have a great month and I will be talking to you next month on November 21, 2011 from 10am to 11am.

September 13, 2011

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: