HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

We got a doozy of a phone call the other day. The message said our account would be automatically debited $499 unless we called back to get the money refunded. So we did what we always do in such situations. We typed the phone number into a Google search. Sure enough, it was a scam.

Interestingly when Joy bought Bob a new phone, the Pixel 3a, we got a spam call within ten minutes of activating the phone. So take note: They’re out there and they’re always gunning for you.

Kid Version of Alexa

Kids Edition with $8.49 Decal

Amazon’s smart speaker, the Echo and Echo Dot with Alexa inside, sometimes offers more information than kids can handle. Now there’s a “Kid’s Edition,” $70 from Amazon.com.

Say “Good Morning” to the kids’ version and Alexa will make you laugh, changing her answer every time you ask. Example: “”Good morning! Time to shake it out! Move your body and shake out the sleep! Ready? Shake, shake, shake!” 

Parents get access to Parents.Amazon.com to put in parental controls. That’s important if you don’t want kids talking to Alexa all night. You can read transcripts of everything your child said to Alexa, or delete it all. You can also do this on a regular Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show. Just say, “Alexa, Delete everything I said today,” or “Alexa, delete that.”

The kids’ version also gives you a year’s subscription to “Free Time,” for free movies, games and books, which are available on Kindle Fire tablets too. After that it’s $5 a month per child or $10 a month per family of four ($7 a month if you’re a member of Amazon Prime.) For an excellent review, see TomsGuide.com.

Internuts

  • GetHuman.com. A reader reminded us to mention this site again. It lists the phone numbers you need to avoid voicemail hell and talk to an actual person.
  • RD.com has an article “People say These 15 Words Aren’t Words but They Actually Are.” When a non-word gains widespread use, it makes it to the dictionary. Examples: “Firstly,” “irregardless,” “prolly,” and “orientate.” Joy likes to “take things for granite,” but that isn’t common yet.
  • How to Create a Book in Microsoft Word.” Search on that phrase to find an article from HowToGeek.com with step-by-step instructions.

Windows 7 Security Risk

Photo Courtesy of HelpHelpNow.com

Our favorite guru, Kenny, who was a leading tech support guy for a leading firm before starting helphelpnow.com, says it’s not advisable to use Windows 7 or XP on the Internet once Microsoft stops offering patches. 

That surprised us. We thought  you were good to go if you have an antivirus program and the free Malwarebytes to ward off hack attacks.

“If the operating system has security holes,” he says, “hackers or worms can get through.” Last month, Microsoft released a patch for Windows XP users, though it officially ended support in 2014. That’s because this particular security hole was so bad, it could replicate itself on one old computer after another. If you haven’t updated your XP or Vista machine, do a search on this phrase: “Customer guidance for CVE-2019-0708” to find the patch from Microsoft. Support for Windows 7 ends January 15, 2020.

Kenny points out that millions of people have not upgraded to Windows 10 because their computers could not handle something newer. That includes the military and banks. We use a powerful XP machine that we paid $70 for on Amazon. We only it use offline for our favorite greeting card program and some art programs that won’t run on newer operating systems. As long you’re offline, they can’t get to you.

Who We Follow on Twitter

Our friend Louise saw dirty messages when she signed up for Twitter and stopped going there. The news media is always reporting on Twitter’s toxicity but we’ve never seen any rudeness. Maybe it’s because we avoid political sites in favor of upbeat science. Here are some of our favorites.

Screen Calls

We forgot to mention the best part of Bob’s new smartphone, the Google Pixel 3a. It’s the call screening feature found on all Pixel phones.

Tap “call screen” when a call is coming in and the person is asked to state their name and why they’re calling. You’ll see a transcript of what they’re saying as they talk, and can accept the call or reject it. This comes in handy when the area code matches our own, and we wonder if it’s someone local we know.

Bamboozled!

A Facebook friend sent a video link and a question: “Is this you?” Joy clicked on it. Big mistake.

The next thing she knew, Russian text showed up on the homescreen of her phone and every one of her 235 Facebook friends got the “Is it you?” link. Now they’ll be sending it on to all their friends if they click on it. Some were savvy enough to say they needed more information before clicking. Joy tried to write them all to warn them, but Facebook Messenger only lets you do 20 at a time, a real nuisance. 

In general, a vague text message like “Are you there?” or “Is it you?” is probably a scam. As a consequence, Joy is being sent to her room.

 

 

One Response to “HOW TO SPOT A SCAM”

  1. Very good read.
    Thanks for the sharing this article