Tech Companies Will Never Call You: Don’t Be A Victim Of Tech Support Scams

Many of our PC customers here at catmandu in Amarillo, TX are falling victim to tech support phone scams. The end result for these customers is a virus infected computer and the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Many of the computers that end up on our workbench are there because of tech support scams. We will explain how you can you spot a scam and how you should respond if you think someone is trying to con you.
First, the main goal of the criminal is to steal your money. The scams work when a scammer gets your phone number from a public directory and then calls you pretending to be a representative from various tech companies. They may even claim to be from a particular brand that you actually use, such as HP, Dell, Microsoft, etc. They will try to tell you that your computer is infected with a virus and they will offer to do a free security scan which will, of course, show that your computer is infected.
Once you are convinced that you have a virus, the scammer will try to sell you security software. This software could contain malware that takes over your entire system or it could just be bogus software that doesn’t do anything. Either way, the scammers have taken money from you.
Instead of selling you software, they may also convince you to let them access your computer remotely, where they will then make changes to your settings and leave you vulnerable. They may also ask for your credit card data or direct you to websites that ask for your payment information.
The worst cases that we see are when hackers have taken control of an entire system and make victims pay a ransom to get back control of their computers. This ransom can reach into the thousand dollar mark. Never pay this ransom.
If you get a call from a “tech company,” hang up. Then, call us at 806-350-8324. Do not try searching for the real support phone number because hackers have become smart; they now plant fake phone numbers all over the internet and try to get you to call them. It is highly unlikely that any tech company will call you and they rarely advertise their phone numbers on the internet. A legitimate number could be found on software packages, receipts, and from the company’s real website (be careful, though, criminals are good at making fake sites that look like the real thing).
Never, for any reason, give control of your system to someone who calls you. Never rely on Caller ID because this can be faked. Never provide callers with credit card numbers or passwords. Never install the free software that they are trying to provide. Just hang up. 
If you are reading this blog after becoming a victim to a tech support scam, you need to bring your device to catmandu so we can perform a full system scan and remove any malware that may have been installed. It’s also important to change your passwords and cancel any credit cards that were compromised. Call your credit card company to report the fraud.
This may sound silly if you’ve never been the victim of a phone scam. However, these scam artists are extremely convincing and they have tricked thousands of people into giving up their money. But you can protect yourself by knowing what to look for and knowing what to do when you get a phone call.
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Tips For Upgrading To Windows 10

It’s Windows 10 Eve! Tonight at Midnight of July 29, 2015 Microsoft will begin rolling out upgrades to Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users. The upgrade will first go to Windows 10 Insiders, then to those who made a reservation months or weeks ago, and finally to everyone else. The upgrade won’t be done automatically and you will have to tell your PC when it’s okay to upgrade.
You may be apprehensive about updating to an entirely new operating system – and that’s normal. In this guide we’ll tell you when it’s best to wait on updating and how to safely update when it’s time.
You should hold off on upgrading if you:
Are an avid Windows Media Center user. Windows Media Center, created in 2002 and destroyed in 2009, will not be included on Windows 10. It will disappear completely if you decide to upgrade.
Regularly use older software. You might enjoy using older versions of software and if so, these programs might not work once you have Windows 10.
Are worried about bugs. The first version of a new operating system is often buggy and if the PC or tablet you are upgrading is your main computer, it might be best to wait a few weeks before upgrading so the bugs are fixed.
You have old or weak hardware. Windows 10 requires at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM for 32-bit machines or 2GB for 64-bit machines, 16GB hard disk space for 32-bit machines or 20GB hard disk space for 64-bit machines, a DirectX 9 or later graphics card with a WDDM 1.0 driver and an 800 x 600 display or better, according to Computer World.
Other features that will be lost in Windows 10 are older versions of Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts, Windows 7 desktop gadgets (calendar, weather), the ability to automatically watch DVDs, and a floppy drive.
However, Windows 10 has some groundbreaking new features, which you can read about by following this link.
If you have decided to go ahead and take the plunge, here’s how to upgrade smartly and safely:
Backup, backup, backup. We can’t say it enough. Data is the worst thing you have to lose during your upgrade because unlike software, data can’t be replaced. We recommend using three backup locations: on your computer, in an off-site location such as with Carbonite, and locally with an external hard drive.
Make sure your device is good enough. Go through the specs we listed above and make sure your device will be able to handle the upgrade.
Don’t worry too much about bugs. While they still might happen, Microsoft has worked tirelessly for the past nine months to make sure they don’t have another Windows 8 disaster. In fact, 1.5 million Windows 10 Insiders have already discovered 1,300 bugs and defects in the software that have been fixed.
How to upgrade. If you put in your reservation weeks ago, you just have to wait until your system notifies you that an upgrade is available. However, you don’t have to upgrade right then and there. You have one year to be able to upgrade for free. If you haven’t reserved your upgrade, click on the Windows 10 App that should have automatically installed on your computer a couple of months ago. It will have the Windows logo and is in the lower right corner next to the clock. It will guide you through the process of reserving your upgrade.
Use the Windows 10 App to scan your device. It might be a good idea to give your device a good scan to check how compatible Windows 10 will be. The Windows 10 app will fully scan your PC and let you know which hardware and software isn’t going to be compatible.
Go back to your previous version if you want. After upgrading to Windows 10, you have 30 days to revert to the previous operating system if you notice anything funky. After that, you’re locked in.
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Facebook & Firefox Call For Flash To End, Once And For All

It’s been a rough week for Adobe Flash. On Monday, July 13, 2015, the Firefox internet browser blocked Adobe Flash Player by default and Facebook’s chief security officer called upon Adobe to announce an end-of-life date for Flash. This all comes after finding out that Hacking Team, a spyware organization, was using Flash to remotely take over victims’ computers and infect them. Flash has been notoriously vulnerable over the years.
Firefox users will no longer be able to access Flash content and will have to manually re-enable Flash on the browser. Or they can choose to use another browser, like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, which still support Flash for now. It will be much like using smartphones, which don’t support Flash.
As of now, around 1 in 10 websites still use Flash (according to W3Techs), despite the fact that Google punishes sites that use Flash because of its lack of mobile usability. According to CNN Money, Flash is a type of “middleware” that allows for rich content to be viewed. It was used extensively 10 years ago to power games and animations. In 2005, all YouTube videos required a Flash plug-in to view.
In 2010, Steve Jobs called for the end of Flash, saying it was the number one reason that Macs crashed and lamenting its unbelievable lack of security. Over the years, Flash has been exploited over and over again, causing millions of systems to be infected with malware. It puts users at risk and tech giants like Facebook, Mozilla, and Apple aim to protect their users.
Facebook wants Flash to go away for good. “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash,” tweeted Facebook security chief Alex Stamos on Sunday.
However, Mozilla stated that Flash could once again be enabled on Firefox as long as Adobe “releases a version which isn’t being actively exploited by publicly known vulnerabilities,” according to CNN.
If you are worried about a Flash vulnerability, Flash can be disabled on all browsers.
Chrome: Go to chrome://plugins, find the Flash player, and click disable.
Safari: Go to preferences security manage website settings, and then Adobe Flash Player. On the “when visiting other websites” dropdown menu, click block.
Firefox: Click the hamburger icon and then click add-ons. Go to the left hand column and find plugins. Under the dropdown menu, select “never activate.”
Internet Explorer: Click the gear icon in the upper right corner and then click internet options > programs > manage add-ons Shockwave Flash Client. In the lower right, click disable. 
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