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Boulder Computer Maven Newsletter - June 2010

Dear Friends,

This is my customer newsletter, containing information that I hope will help you use your computer more enjoyably, safely, and efficiently. This month's topics are Telephone Tech Support Fraud, "I Was Mugged" E-mail Fraud, and Write Down Your Product Keys.

Previous newsletters are available on the newsletters page of the Boulder Computer Maven web site.

If you change your E-mail address, please send me your new one. If you don't want to receive this newsletter, let me know, and I'll remove your name from my mailing list.

If you have questions or comments or want to schedule an appointment, please call me at 303-444-8247.

Best Wishes,
Steve Winograd

Helping People Use Computers in Boulder for Over 25 Years

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Telephone Tech Support Fraud

Criminals have come up with a new type of computer-oriented fraud: calling people on the telephone, claiming to be from Microsoft, and offering to help fix computer problems. The callers might tell you that your computer is infected with viruses and offer to clean it up. They can sound very helpful and convincing, hoping to gain your trust so that they can:

Microsoft doesn't make unsolicited phone calls. If you get such a call, hang up immediately. For more information, see Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently in the Microsoft Online Safety web site.

"I Was Mugged" E-mail Fraud

I recently got an E-mail message from friends of mine saying that they were mugged at gunpoint overseas and urgently requesting me to wire money to them at a foreign address. In fact, my friends were right here in Boulder. Criminals had apparently broken into their E-mail account and sent the message to everyone in their address book.

If you get such a message, alert the sender right away by phone or by a different E-mail address. Don't use the E-mail address that sent the message, because the criminals who sent it will see your message and try to trick you into sending them money. If someone has broken into your E-mail account, sign into your account and change the password right away. If the criminals have hijacked your E-mail account so that you can't change the password, contact your E-mail service provider for help. For example, if you use Hotmail, follow the steps on the Account Compromise - Unauthorized Account Access page.

Write Down Your Product Keys

Most programs that you buy come with a product key: a string of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies your copy of the program and shows that it was legally purchased. If you ever need to re-install the program, you'll need to have the key. Write down the keys for your products and keep them in a place where you can find them again.

If you bought a computer with Windows pre-installed, the product key is on a sticker (which can become damaged and unreadable) on the computer's case. If you bought a retail version of Windows, it's on a Certificate of Authenticity that came in the box. Microsoft Office also comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

To have your computer automatically find the product keys for you, run one of these free programs: Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder or NirSoft ProduKey.