Blog: Tech News & Tips

What to do if your Facebook account has been hacked?

Lately, my inbox has been overrun with cries for help. Folks are telling me that their Facebook account has been hacked! The hackers are out there using a little social engineering to figure out your password and get total control of your Facebook.

  • “Someone hacked my Facebook and changed my password”
  • “Someone hacked my Facebook and changed my password and email”
  • “I was hacked on Facebook Messenger”
  • “My Facebook keeps getting hacked”
  • “Opened message from hacked Facebook account”

And, my favorite:

  • “My ex hacked my Facebook Can I press charges?”

Here’s just a small sample of some of the messages I’ve received:

Examples of cries for help when someone's Facebook account has been hacked

Unfortunately, once you’ve lost control of your Facebook account, it’s awfully hard to get it back. We’ve tried to get accounts back, but, the hackers know what they’re doing. Once they take control, they lock the account down pretty tightly. They have already proved to Facebook that they are you, and once they’ve changed the email address and phone number, you’re not going to get it back.

What should you do right away if your Facebook account has been hacked, your password and email are changed, and you’ve lost control of it?

There are a number of things you should do right away. Think about your finances, online security for other accounts, your email, and other personal data like photos and notes.

What if my credit card or bank account is connected to my Facebook account?

The first thing you should do is contact your bank. If you have your credit card, debit card, or bank account connected to your Facebook you should cancel them right away. Period. Don’t even think about this. If the hacker has full control of your Facebook, they can go on a spending spree with your money. Until your bank officially cancels the card, keep a very close eye on your online banking activity.

Should I change my password on other accounts?

When your Facebook account has been hacked, you should change the password on these accounts right away:

  • Change the password on your email. If your Facebook uses multiple emails, change it on all of those accounts
  • Any account where you are using the same password as Facebook

Once you’ve changed the password on your email and any account using the same password as Facebook, change the passwords on all of your other accounts. (Yes, I said ALL!)

We recommend that you change your password on social media and your financial accounts at least monthly. Use a password that is at least 12 characters. (Longer is better.) Here’s an old blog on how to create a secure password that you’ll remember.

Use something like: “MyNewF@ceb0okPW!”, or “NewFB@ccount1nfo”. Both are 16 digit passwords. Notice that there is a mix of capital and small letters, numbers, and special characters. (I’ve replaced the “A”s with the @ symbol, one of the “o”s of Facebook is actually a zero, and the “I” of Info is actually the number one.) Change it at least once a month going forward.

Can they hack my email too?

Double-check your email settings. Have they changed? You should look especially at the “Reply-To” address. And change your password too!

I’ve been using Facebook to log into other apps. How do I get into them now?

If you’ve used another way to log into those apps, you can probably still log in with a password reset. If you only used Facebook to log in, you may be out of luck. Contact Customer Service for the app. Let them know what happened and tell them your email. They may let you back in. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you’ll probably have difficulties there.

I’m embarrassed. Should I tell my friends?

Absolutely! After you speak to your bank and change your password, call your friends. They should be on the lookout for messages that are not from you, especially if the message is asking for help or money.

How do I get all my photos back?

If you set up your account as “Public”, and the hacker hasn’t changed the settings, you may still be able to get access to your photos, albums, notes, etc. If you can’t, ask someone you trust (who is still a “friend” of the account) to download all of your data.

What about my Facebook business account?

If you’ve lost access to your personal Facebook account, you’ve lost access to your business account too. Make sure your customers know. If you’ve ever purchased advertising on Facebook, contact your bank and cancel that card or account.

Setting up a new Facebook account:

What should I do to securely set up a new personal Facebook account?

  • Set up a new email account to use only for Facebook
  • Set up Two-Factor Authorization with the new account.
  • Make sure your password is at least 12 characters long and contains a good mix of numbers, letters, capitals, and special characters.
  • Go through the Privacy and Security settings on your new Facebook and lock it down as much as you can.
  • Change the password on your new account monthly.
  • Don’t provide any financial information to Facebook. If you want to purchase something on the Marketplace, negotiate a different means of payment with the seller.

How should I set up a new Facebook Business account?

  • Create another new email account to only use with your Facebook business account. (You’ll need to set up a personal account first. And, yes, you’ll end up with two personal accounts.)
  • Follow the same steps outlined above for setting up your new business account.
  • If you advertise on Facebook, ask your bank for a separate credit card with a minimal spending limit. (Don’t use a debit card!)

How do I “Lock Down” my new account(s)?

If figuring out the Privacy settings on your new Facebook page is more than you want to do, let us know. We can set up a remote appointment with Chris to go through all of your settings to make sure another hacking is less likely. (Unfortunately, there are never any guarantees when it comes to protecting yourself from hackers.)

Information About Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!

4 Ways to Tell if the Person Calling You is Not a Scammer

Is the caller a scammer? I wrote this blog way back in 2017. The tips still apply, but I have updated this post for 2021.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but I don’t think you should always answer your phone.  More and more, the person on the other end isn’t someone you know.  They just want to sell you something, or scam you, or they just want to see if they’ve got a working phone number on their call list.

So, how can you tell if your caller is legit?  Spoiler Alert: I saved the best one for last!

1. Their name and phone number pop up in the caller ID, and you recognize the name.

Many times I receive a call from “Unidentified Caller” or “Number Blocked”.  Why should I answer those calls? I primarily use my cell phone but my cell phone carrier only sends me a number, not the full caller ID info.  That is why I always add every caller to my contact list.  If it ends up being a sales call or a scammer, I block the number from being able to call me in the future.

Sure, this means I sometimes miss a call from my kid when she’s lost her phone and had to borrow a friend’s.  But then, she always leaves a message. Scammers generally won’t leave a message.

What a Scammer will say to you: "We just want to make sure your machine is okay."
     What a Scammer may say to you

2. When you don’t answer, they leave a voice mail. A scammer generally won’t.

Legitimate callers leave a message. It’s a friend or family calling from a new number.  It’s your Dry Cleaners calling to let you know you left a credit card in your shirt pocket.  To be sure, this isn’t a sure-fire way to tell if it’s a scammer or to filter out the junk calls.  I get plenty of messages that start with “If you want to make $1000 each and every day then please listen to this entire message.” But, for me at least, it works 90% of the time.

3. Their phone number doesn’t show up on 800 Notes.

There are several websites that let you check the caller’s information.  I’ve found that 800 Notes generally has current info, especially for scammers. You won’t always find out exactly who is calling you, but you can tell, if a lot of people are reporting the same number, that it’s not someone you want to talk to.

4. They don’t tell you that your computer has malware or isn’t up-to-date. (Scammer for sure!)

Recently, we’ve had several people call us to repair their computer after they’ve had a conversation with “Microsoft” or their “Internet Service Provider”.  There are variations, but it comes down to the same basic thing:

  • “Microsoft” or “Dell” or “Apple” calls to let you know that your Operating System is out of date and you need to update it right away.  The caller would be happy to update it for you if you’ll just give them remote access to your computer.
  • Your “Internet Service Provider” or ISP calls to let you know that you have a terrible virus and you are spreading it all over.  Or, they tell you that your email has been hacked and your account is sending scam emails. (If you think your email has been hacked, here are some tips to follow.) Again, they’d be happy to remove all the malware.  You just have to give them remote access to your computer, and generally pay between $75-500 for the privilege.

Unless you have already signed up for a service where you have asked a company to scan your computer on a regular basis, no well-meaning person in a legit company is going to call you to “help” you with your computer.  When someone remotely accesses your computer, they will generally add malware to it, not remove it!

Conclusion:

Phone call scammers are more subtle and convincing than ever. Be very careful about which phone calls you answer. If you’re not sure about a specific caller, let it go to voice mail.

If you’ve given a cold caller remote access to your computer, and now you’re worried that they installed a virus or other malware, give us a call.  We’ll do a complete scan of your machine and remove all the malware we find.

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from phishing scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

9 Tips For Keeping Your Data Safe during Fire Season

Fire Season
James Peak during Fire Season

Note: I originally wrote this post about Prepping your Tech for Fire Season on 1 May 2018. It’s been updated to add more information.

I woke up this morning to a hazy, smoky view and I am reminded that it is Fire Season again.  In this case, the fire is two states away, but the smoke is pushed hundreds of miles by the jet stream. Even though the fire is so far away, it is a reminder that when you live in the west, you need to be prepared to evacuate, at a moment’s notice. Here are our recommendations to be prepared for Fire Season, to keep your data safe, and to make sure your technology continues to work wherever you land.

Recommendations for Fire Season:

Use a laptop for your daily computer:

  • There is not a lot of difference between a laptop and a desktop anymore, so get the computer that will allow you to grab it fast.  You can still have a large monitor and keyboard on your desk.  If you need to bug out, just unplug everything.

Get two charging cables for your laptop:

  • Keep one at your desk and the other in the laptop case.  This way you won’t need to grab anything extra.

Use the Cloud:

  • Make sure you use the Cloud to back up your data.  An external hard drive can accidentally get left behind.  Or worse, you may not even have time to grab your laptop.   I like Dropbox because I can log onto the Internet from anywhere to easily access my data.

Get a Hot Spot:

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about turning your cell phone into a hot spot.  As long as you have access to a good cellular signal, you’ll be able to send a good wifi signal to your laptop from anywhere.
  • Speaking of “Hot Spots”, here’s a great video from Jefferson County Fire Department on what to do if you think you spot smoke or a wildland fire:

POWER!

  • Make sure you have a bunch of fully charged battery packs.  I recommend getting two of these Power Banks. Several months ago I purchased two and was constantly using one or the other until I gave one away to someone who really needed it.  It’s in my laptop case, so if I run low on charge, I can easily get recharged again.

More Tips:

  • Keep the Geek For Hire phone number handy.  We can talk you through most issues you might be having.  Remember, if you just have a quick question, we don’t charge for phone calls under 10 minutes.
  • During Fire Season, remember to keep your precious photos and other valuables in a bin by the door ready to go in case you do get evacuated.
  • Keep your fuel tanks at least half full throughout Fire Season.
  • Grab your laundry basket.  All of your favorite clothes are already in there!

On the bright side, we’ll be treated to some amazing sunrises and sunsets until that fire is under control!

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’d like to receive our newsletters in your email, please click here.

A Bluetooth-Connected App to Solve Your Puzzle Cube?

What with Bluetooth this and Bluetooth that, have you ever thought about a Bluetooth-connected app to help with solving a puzzle cube? This year, Santa dropped a puzzle cube into everyone’s stocking. They were all different, so we had fun sharing them. But now they are all so mixed up, they will never get solved again!

Is there a Bluetooth-connected Puzzle Cube?

I’ve just found out that there are several STEM toys that keep your brain active with improved cognitive mapping skills, increase eye-hand agility, AND help you solve the cube. There are several. The most well-known are the Rubik’s Connected Cube, and the GoCube. They are both physical cubes that can connect to your smartphone. They track your progress and help you learn how to solve the puzzle faster.

Want to see how this puzzle cube works?

Conclusion: Should you get a connected Puzzle Cube?

These connected puzzle cubes are great STEM toys that help you learn at the same time. Back to school is coming up and you may be looking for something that keeps your kids busy and learning during the rest of the summer.



It looks like GoCube has a Buy One/Get One deal going on right now!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tech Tips:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
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Are VPNs worth it? Does a VPN really keep you safer?

No, I’m not talking about the monthly or annual fee, which is generally fairly low. I’m wondering: Are VPNs worth the time and effort to manage?

There are so many misconceptions about VPNs. Is it worth getting a VPN? Well, if you’re an average person, read on for the answer. Here’s what you’ll learn:Are VPNs worth it

  • What is a VPN?
  • Does a VPN keep you safer?
  • Does a VPN keep my computer safe from viruses?
  • Can someone see my internet history if I use their Wi-Fi?
  • What should you do?

We’ve all been hearing about Virtual Private Networks lately. Many security experts say you MUST have a VPN.  For example, in Extreme Privacy, author Michael Bazzell says:

“VPNs provide a good mix of both security and privacy by routing your Internet traffic through a secure tunnel. The secure tunnel goes to the VPNs server and encrypts all the data between your device and that server. This ensures that anyone monitoring your traffic before it reaches the distant server will not find usable, unencrypted data.”

(Here’s a link to my book review of Extreme Privacy.) Other experts say it is not worth the bother; that VPNs are useless. But first, let’s answer some questions.

If you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, will encrypt all data which is transmitted and received by your computer, across your network, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and across the entire Internet to the VPN endpoint server. At that point, your data is fully open. You should know that Financial Institutions already do full end-to-end encryption, so you don’t need a VPN for financial transactions.

In addition, you can choose which VPN server you connect through. So, not only will your internet activity be encrypted, but you can also appear to be in a different location. This could be helpful if you want to watch the BBC from London!

Does a VPN keep you safer?

By itself, a VPN does not keep you safer. A VPN will encrypt your data so that no one can read it. For most people, simply practicing good digital hygiene will keep you, and your data, safe.

Does a VPN keep my computer safe from viruses?

A VPN is not an anti-virus. You still need to be careful with the links you click on and the files that you download. You should always have a good anti-virus installed.

We recommend the ESET NOD32 Antivirus!

Can someone see my internet history if I use their Wi-Fi?

Your internet surfing is encrypted when you use a VPN. Even if you are using public Wi-Fi, your data will not be in a form that can be read by a different party.

Are VPNs worth it? Won’t using a VPN use more data?

Yes. The act of encrypting your data has the side effect of slowing down your network performance. Encrypted data tends to be about 20% bigger than data sent without encryption.

Do I need a VPN at home?

If you practice very good digital hygiene, you may wonder if you really need a VPN. Great digital hygiene means:

  • Change passwords frequently – especially for financial accounts, social media accounts, and any website that has your credit card information stored. Frequently means at least once a month. If you can, change these passwords every week.
  • Use a different password for each account.
  • Log out of each app when you’re done.
  • Don’t share your passwords with other people. If you’re sharing a Netflix account with family or roommates, set it up with a brand new email address and unique password. ONly share that info with your Netflix buddies.

What are the downsides to having a VPN?

If you’re wondering, yes, I do have a VPN installed on my laptop and phone. There are times when a website I’m trying to get to blocks my access because I have a VPN. This happens sometimes with financial sites and with entertainment sites. In those cases what I need to do is to turn off the VPN and turn off the VPN Kill switch. Turning off the VPN kill switch allows me to surf freely without having the VPN turned on.

Another issue I run into is slow internet. It’s easy to blame that on my local ISP, but sometimes it is the VPN endpoint server that I am connected to. When I connect to a different VPN endpoint, many times my internet speed gets faster.

What should you do?

If you feel the need to make sure your data is not read by a third party, including your ISP, then you should get a VPN. If you frequently use public Wi-Fi, you should probably get a VPN. We use (and recommend) Nord.

NordVPN Dream deal: shorter commitment, lowest price! Get 2-years at 70% off, only $3.49/mo, total $83.76

If managing your internet connection makes your head spin, you shouldn’t get a VPN!

Should I always use a VPN?

Yes. If you do get a VPN, install it on all your devices, and always have it turned on. One of the reasons that we like NordVPN is because you can protect six devices with one subscription. Here’s another article if you’d like to learn more about VPNs. If you do need to turn it off for any reason, make sure you re-enable the “kill switch” when you turn it back on.

Are VPNs worth it – Conclusion:

For the average person, having and using a VPN makes little sense. Your bank already encrypts your data, and you (hopefully!) have a good Anti-virus installed. You are good to go without a VPN!

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

MORE TIPS HERE:

How to Select a Great DSL modem

UPDATE – Selecting a great DSL Modem for 2021:

Chris has changed his tune about the best way to get a great DSL modem. Now he recommends getting the best modem that your Internet Service Provider offers. If you get a modem independently and then have issues with your WiFi, your ISP will tell you to replace the modem because it is faulty. If you have a modem from your ISP, they are more able to look through the network to see what problems are there and get it fixed for you.

Original blog from September 2016:

Two weeks ago our blog was about getting a great cable modem.  Today I’ve asked Chris to enlighten us about DSL modems.

The two major Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the state of Colorado are CenturyLink (previously known as Qwest), and Xfinity (previously known as Comcast).

Great DSL modem
Photo Credit: Amazon

Note that CenturyLink is the only provider of DSL internet service.  Within the past week, I saw a standard DSL modem with “DISHnet” printed on the top of it.  I know for a fact that Dish subcontracts with CenturyLink in the state of Colorado to provide DSL internet service, but you would have to call Dish to have any DSL troubles or questions resolved – because CenturyLink will not have a record of you or your account.  So in general, if you want DSL internet service, you will be best served by going direct and getting this service through CenturyLink.

What is the easiest way to get a DSL modem that is compatible with CenturyLink?

is to get a CenturyLink branded DSL modem, for about $100.  The CenturyLink branded DSL modems have an “Auto-Configure” capability built-in, which will automatically get the configuration it needs using the Caller-ID from your phone line.

However, contrary to the general advice of CenturyLink, you can use other DSL modems – but there are some “magic values” that will need to be entered into the DSL modem.

The magic DSL values are:

  • DSL VPI: 0
  • DSL VCI: 32
  • Authentication uses PPPoA.
  • You will need to manually enter the Userid and Password, which is gotten from CenturyLink.

The WiFi in the CenturyLink modem is okay, but not great.  There are a few DSL modems that can improve your WiFi service.  Some specific recommendations are:

Want more technical information about DSL?  Read more in this separate article.

Common DSL problems:

One of the common problems with DSL is that the service becomes Oversubscribed.  We love where we live, and in general, we wouldn’t change a thing, except if only the internet service wasn’t so slow sometimes.  The best way to solve this lack of available bandwidth problem is:

  • You call the ISP about poor performance,

and

  • You talk with your Town and your County about poor internet performance and ask them to begin to have conversations with the ISP – because sometimes Politics can be put to good use to incrementally improve aspects of Your life.

Need an Advocate for Great Internet Service?

Sometimes you call and complain to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about your slow internet speed and they tell you it’s not their fault – it’s your equipment. If you need help talking tech to their support center, give us a call. We’ll be happy to advocate for better service for you!

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Hacked Email? Check your “Rules”

This past week, we received hacked email messages “from” several different customers indicating that their email account has become compromised. I have “from” in quotes because the emails weren’t actually from those people.

Each email was similar, in that they all started with a benign and short email message saying “Checking in” or “Favor to ask!” or “Hey there?”. The request said something like “I wonder if I could ask your help?”. All the messages were received within the past 7 days. This indicates an active and fruitful attack that is going on right now.

HACKED EMAIL – CHECKING IN:

Here’s a screenshot of one of the first hacked email messages we received:

Hacked email example - need a favor

Chris replied with a quick email that said “Yes, I will call you later today”.  Our “Spider-Sense” was tingling about this message – because this is not something that this customer would do via email.  A few minutes later, we received this message:

email hacking example - Apple card for neice

We noticed that the “reply from” address was slightly different from his actual email address. (An “R” was added to the end of his name.) I called the customer a few minutes later, and he said he had not sent either of the messages. We talked for a while, and I recommended that he turn off his computer, and wait until I could arrive later that day.

Super-Geek To The Rescue:

The first thing was to review his MSN account security information, such as the cell phone and alternate email addresses on file which can be used for account recovery, and to change his password.  I enabled a feature to disconnect all already connected email programs which might still be connected. We wanted to make sure the hacker did not still have access to his account, to possibly seize back control.  I looked through his past login history and found that there were several recent attempts from Nigeria using Exchange.  This was a smart and sneaky attack.

Hacked email - unusual activity from Nigeria

I scanned his machine, and found the machine was not infected – but there was something wrong with his MSN email account. His Inbox showed that it had not received any new email messages for the past several days. (He could send email messages just fine.)

I looked through his account configuration within MSN, and found that a Rule (which did not have a name) had been added. It was applied to every new email message.

Hacked email - account rules changed and archive message

  • Mark the message as Read
  • Move the message to the Archive folder
  • Forward a copy of that email message to a different email account. This looked like the customer’s email address but with very subtle differences.

I found that all of the customer’s recent email was indeed in the Archive folder, and moved them back to the Inbox.  I deleted the Rule added by the Hijacker.

HEY THERE?

Here’s another hacked email we received:

Hacked Email Example - slick get back to me asap

 

This was a sneaky one too with multiple Rules added to their email. In this case, their Comcast email account had been modified to have a similar Rule added, which was forwarding a copy of all email messages to a similarly named email address under the Hotmail.com domain that did not belong to the customer.  The password was changed, the account recovery information was reviewed, and the silent email forwarding Rules (there were two) were found and deleted.

FAVOR TO ASK!

For another customer, we received this “Favor to Ask!” message:

Hacked email example - another Favor to Ask

We contacted them with a different email to let them know. They sent an email blast to their contacts announcing that their email address had been compromised, which is good. But they didn’t BCC everyone so we:

  • saw their complete list of contacts, and
  • so did everyone else.

Remember, if you need to send an email message to many contacts, follow good Netiquette and don’t use CC. Using BCC will hide all contacts that you are sending to. (Who remembers “carbon copies”, “blind carbon copies”, and getting their fingers all inky?!)

FAVOR TO ASK?

We also received this similar message from a hacked email:

example - favor to ask - AmazonAgain, the hacker changed the rules within their email account.

GREETINGS

And, last but not least, we received this convoluted request:

Another example requesting a Home Depot card

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR EMAIL INBOX:

If you get an email like this, it’s important to let the person know, WITHOUT using the email address that was used to send the original message! The best option is to call or text them. If you don’t have their phone number, see if you have another email for them. You can also contact a family member and ask them to pass on the message. I’ve even resorted to sending the person a message on Facebook.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE DEALING WITH A HACKED EMAIL ACCOUNT:

If you find out that your email has been compromised there are several things you should do right away:

  • Change your password on your email account.
  • Double-check that your “reply to” address is really your address. Look for an extra letter. Is the domain correct? (Comcast? Gmail? Outlook? etc.)
  • Check your email account “Rules” to see if any new emails are forwarded to a different address?
  • Let people know that your email is compromised. Make sure they know you’re fine and don’t need a gift card for Amazon or Apple. If you send one email to a bunch of people, please use BCC.

As always, if you need help, give us a call. In most cases, we can help you remotely.

CONCLUSION: 

Scammers, hackers, hijackers, and spear-phishers are getting more sophisticated in their attacks. Here’s a recent article about a big-time Nigerian email scam. Today is a great day to run your virus scanner, change passwords, set up two-factor authorization, and back up your data!

 

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Spring Cleaning Your Tech – 5 Easy Tips!

I don’t know about you, but when I think “Spring Cleaning”, I’m thinking about dust bunnies, dog nose art, and getting the sleeveless shirts from the back of the closet. (Fun trick: Turn hangers backward for your clothes at the start of a new season. At the end of the season, anything you haven’t worn, donate!)

Please note: We often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Some of these are affiliate links, and we may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

When I hear “Spring Cleaning”, I’m not thinking about my technology. What about you? Do you think about Spring Cleaning Your Tech? Here are some tips for you:

Spring Cleaning Your Tech – aka Computer Maintenance:

  1. Take a minute every month or so to scan your computer for viruses. Many of our customers use ESET, which Chris has recommended for years. It’s easy to do. Just open the ESET/NOD32 app and click on “Scan Your Computer”. It will run in the background while you continue working. Spring Cleaning - run your virus scannerWhen it’s done, it will tell you and let you know if it has found anything suspicious.
  2. Back up your computer regularly, especially if you have precious data on it. I use Dropbox which backs up everything automatically. I have the Dropbox app on my phone as well, so I can access files from anywhere. Plus, if my computer is down for any reason, I can head to the Library, log onto Dropbox, and pull up the file I need to work on from there.
  3. Purchase several thumb drives and make a copy of the photo albums you have stored on your computer. Keep one and give the rest as gifts to your kids, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.
  4. Change your passwords for financial accounts at least monthly. That includes your checking, saving, and investment accounts. Don’t forget about any app or website where you’ve saved credit card information, like eBay, PayPal, Amazon, etc.
  5. While you’re at it, please change the password on ALL of your social media accounts. Do it right now! And set up two-factor-authorization (2FA) at the same time. We’re getting between two and five requests every single day about a hacked Facebook or Instagram account. I haven’t heard any success stories here.

Dropbox:

Keep your frequently used files in the “Starred” folder. These come up first, so you won’t have to search for them. I keep insurance documents and other important papers, as well as frequently accessed Word and Excel files, in that folder.

More Tips:

Insurance Cards: Do you ever get to the DMV to renew your registration and they want to see your insurance card, but you haven’t brought it inside with you? Me too! Now, whenever the new cards arrive, I take a photo with my phone and put it in my “Favorites” album. Then if the DMV asks for it, I can bring it up quickly.

Speaking of important information, it’s not a bad idea to take a photo of everything you keep in your wallet in case you misplace it. Keep all those photos in a password-protected folder on your Mac or PC.

Conclusion: 

Today is a great day to run your virus scanner, change passwords, and back up your data!

 

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Daylight Savings Time – Atomic Clocks Reviewed

Between the extreme wind, heavy snow, and very cold temperatures, we’ve had a lot of power outages. I got tired of resetting all of the clocks plugged into wall power so I decided to get a few battery-powered atomic clocks. That way the clocks keep the time during power outages AND reset themselves when Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins and ends. Double win!

I ended up getting three different atomic clocks connected to NIST. Two I like. The third one I am planning on returning as soon as the driveway is shoveled and I can get into town!

Just so you know, if you purchase anything from the links on this page we may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

WALLERGE ATOMIC CLOCK:

The first one to arrive was this one from WallerGe:

This one is on the wall in our family room. The numbers are big enough to read from the couch, and I can see the temperature in the room at a glance. I give it a solid 3.8 stars. It came with the batteries and quickly acquired the correct time and date from the official atomic clock at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Boulder, CO.  I love that it will automatically update the time when Daylight Savings Time (DST) kicks in. Why not four stars? It doesn’t light up in the dark which I didn’t realize I wanted until this one was on the wall. At the time I purchased it, the WallerGe clock was $28

MARATHON ATOMIC CLOCK:

Once I realized I wanted a clock that would light up at night I ordered two more. The Marathon clock was about $40.


I really like this one. It came with batteries so I set it up right out of the box. I clicked the button to get the atomic time reading from NIST and it updated right away. I put it in the bedroom and when I wake up in the middle of the night I can easily read the time, even without my glasses. There are three settings for the light; off, high, and low. There is a little sensor on the front that can tell if it’s dark or not. When it’s dark, the light turns on. It’s got six times zones to choose from, so it works anywhere from Newfoundland to the west coast – all of Canada, Mexico, and most of the continental US. (Sorry, Alaska and Hawaii. You’ll need a different clock!)

LACROSSE TECHNOLOGY ATOMIC CLOCK:

The last one we tried out from La Crosse Technology was the worst.


I got it because the digits are large and I thought it might be hard to read the Marathon one in the dark. Wrong. You actually need to push a button to turn on the light. Having it across the bedroom and expecting to read it while still in the dark is unrealistic. The light on this one is either on or off. If it’s on, it is extra bright, even with the low setting. If the light is off, it’s unreadable in the dark. In addition, it came with the alarm pre-set to midnight and turned on. So the first night we tried it, we were blasted awake at midnight! Third, it didn’t come with batteries, so I had to dig around for a while before I found the right ones. Then, it took its sweet time (55 minutes!) to get the time signal from NIST. After the first 20 minutes, I realized that it was no longer searching for the signal so I needed to push the button again. (And again and again every five minutes after that until it finally captured the signal.) This clock was around $24. Since the Daylight Savings Time (DST) is tomorrow I’ll get a chance to see if it updates automatically before I return it.

Conclusion: 

Now is a great time to get an atomic clock that you don’t have to reset after every power outage or Daylight Savings Time (DST) change.

 

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Macs and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

Facebook Hacking is on the rise! (It’s not your imagination.)

This is short and sweet – 5 steps to keep you safe from Facebook Hacking. If you want more tips, please sign up for our emails.

(Updated from 31 March 2020.)

Chris has been getting a lot of calls recently about hacked Facebook accounts.  A lot of the Facebook hacking starts when you click on a video that a “friend” sent you via Facebook Messenger. It is most likely that your friend’s account has already been compromised, and it is the Facebook hacker sending you the video.

If someone else has gotten control of your Facebook account, it is really hard to get it back. So follow these steps before that happens!

What to do:facebook hacking

Here are Chris’ suggestions if your Facebook account has been hacked:

  1. Change your password.
  2. Change your security question(s) and answers (in case they were reviewed by someone else).
  3. Log out of all locations where you are logged in.
  4. Confirm that your recovery email address and your mobile phone number is still yours and not set to someone else’s.
  5. Tell your friends not to open any videos or any other links that you have sent.

Doing this will help you keep your account yours after you change your password.

Facebook Hacking via Messenger:

It seems like we are all using social media more now than we did even a month ago. Try not to send any links at all via Facebook Messenger for the time being.  If you do get a video (or other links) on Facebook Messenger, don’t click on it right away. Instead, send an email to your friend confirming that they sent the video.

Facebook Hacking Service:

I also did a quick Google search to see what other advice is out there to make your account more secure. Boy, was I surprised when I saw links to a Facebook Hacking Service and an ad to Hire a Facebook Hacker!

Online Security:

Finally, we recommend ESET to keep ALL of your devices safe online.

Other Hints:

  • Also, please remember to stay well clear of shortened links unless you know without a doubt where that link will take you. That includes most bit.ly and owl.ly links. Here’s a recent article about short links.
  • Likewise, there are a lot of scams out there. Read our article about Covid19 scams.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

INFORMATION ABOUT GEEK FOR HIRE, INC.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.