The Scams Continue…

Apple iCloud Scam
Beware Apple people! We received 3 calls today from 858-795-6870 that caller ID identified as Apple Inc. First two were on our voice mail and just after listening they called again. I answered and it is a recorded message stating there is a security breach with the Apple iCloud and urges you to use your Apple device to call 844-871-7945 or to press 1 if you want to speak with a support advisor now, or 2 if you want to hang up. I pressed 1 and a male voice speaking with a foreign accent answered. I said “you are not with Apple, you are fake and a scam”. I’m not sure at what point he hung up.

Googling 844-871-7945 shows a whole store full of scam ideas that use that number.

From Tony:

It’s not just that number, as I’m sure everybody already knows. Most of my Mac clients have been getting hammered by such tricks. The CURRENT, NEWEST scam is the “Six Numbers” deception:

My phone number starts with “619-804-….” If you get a call from a number with your OWN six personal digits, it is very likely to be a scam. Bad people are now having their Caller ID numbers camouflaged to match your own number.

For folks with iPhones, I still stand by my advice for you to go the App Store on your iPhone, click on “Search” at the bottom, and get the free app called “Hiya”. It has spared me at LEAST a hundred such crappy calls since I installed it.

Also: If a stranger calls, and they sound East Indian, HANG UP. My consulting clients are getting swamped by such scammers. They are like whales… They need lots of small fry to succeed. They may only rip you off for between $200 and $700, but that’s still a big deal for most of us. Then, they sell your contact-info to other scammers, and then even more of them, eager to hound you even more. So, do NOT cooperate, or engage with them at all. Since they are outside the USA, the “DO NOT CALL” list is no protection.

Here is why they exist:

Ever since OS X came out, Apple has been diligently adding more and more security to all Apple devices.  THEN, the FBI tried to arm-twist Apple into building-in a “secret” back door, that I predict would immediately become public as soon as possible, and we would all be screwed.

Remember the “Patriot Act”?  It’s still in force.  That means, if a corporation agrees to cooperate with a government agency, it is a FELONY for them to talk about it.  That is why Tim Cook and others from Apple are loudly broadcasting “We are NOT COOPERATING!”  If they ever go silent, that’s when it is truly time to panic.

So, in the two or so years since the big fight between Apple and the FBI, there have been two (soon to be three) major updates to all of Apple’s operating systems.  Each one has been a big, screw-you to the FBI, adding much more draconian security features.  We are now at the point where a high-end Apple Tech (like me), has to struggle to fix problems that are very hard to access and trouble-shoot now.

Security on Apple devices has continued to escalate.  iPhone theft in New York City has dropped 99% in the last two years, due to Apple locking everything down, making a stolen device useless.  This means that the weak link in the security chain is YOU.  That is why the scammers are hitting on you… they can’t break in, any other way.

Warning About Current Tricksters and Scammers

This advice is for anybody using computing devices, even though my professional specialty is Apple equipment:

I’m now hearing of random phone-calls telling my clients that they need to change their Apple ID password, and claiming to be from Apple. I have also heard that there are “Microsoft Support” folks out there, doing the same thing for Windows… “A virus has been found on your computer”.

IT’S ALWAYS A LIE. Don’t fall for it. For that matter, if you get a random phone call from somebody with an East Indian accent, they are NOT on your side, and want to scrape some money off of your hide.

Lately, I am hearing about this stuff at an increasing rate. Since I don’t charge folks for calling me and asking questions, I get a good amount of feedback, which is my intention – I want to keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening outside of my home business.

Here is my theory of WHY this is accelerating: Windows 10, MacOS and IOS operating systems are getting truly stout and secure, so the only way that the big-city sharpies, scammers and confidence men can succeed is if they can FOOL nice, open-hearted neighborly folks, like everybody on NextDoor.com.

It’s best to be suspicious, in 2017 and beyond. The lack of reputable, certified and competent support-people out there has created a huge gap for the swindlers to step into. Folks are so desperate for help, they will allow some stranger in a foreign land to have remote access to their device. MOST times, the faceless stranger just makes the screen do flashy and important-looking things, while the clock runs, and the costs ticks ever upward.

As I have written here before:

– Don’t fall for it. If it seems suspicious, hang UP, without being nice about it. If they call back, tell them “The police have been alerted to your scam. Remove me from your list”. If you don’t, they will sell your information to other scammers. That seems to work, most of the time.

– If they have succeeded in charging your card, call the toll-free number on the back of the card and cancel the payment. They didn’t earn it, and they don’t deserve it.

– DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING!@#$!%! One of my clients got ripped-off for $400,000.00 two years ago. She used the same password for her Gmail account, as well as her Cayman Islands tax-dodge, which contained their entire nest-egg. Funny thing: If my credit union detects a suspicious transfer of money (six bucks, even), they cancel the card and I get an alert. Those dodgy Cayman Island accounts, not so much. I had warned her for years to change her passwords, and when she called, the first thing she asked was “Is there any way to un-do this?” No. There isn’t.

– Our brains are not evolved for the Password Wars. Every one of my clients has a book, or a few sheets of paper next to their computer. These have zillions of entries, crossed-out and scrawled in the corners. They are never 100% up-to-date, because of course… We simply can’t keep up, and I include my 61-year-old self. So, we have to have a SYSTEM:

– Let’s say that my tired, weary brain can only easily come up with one killer, secure and memorable password. Anything else is a chore and a burden. Something like “TonyL1nds3y”, which is a random example that I am using for illustration, and not my actual password. It’s my name, with some capital letters, and some numbers swapped in. If I create a new online account, then my password could be “TonyL1nds3y” with a capital letter at the end:

– Gmail: TonyL1nds3yG
– Apple: TonyL1nds3yA
– Whole Foods: TonyL1nds3yW

See the pattern? Why would it be secure? Because the scammers are like whales – They need lots of teensy prey in order to profit well. They will only dedicate teams of bright people to follow you all over the Internet, and analyze your overall pattern if you are a billionaire. I assume that you are not.

On Apple devices, there is a built-in system called “Keychain In The Cloud” – This is a really good way to have all of your Apple devices handle all of your passwords automatically. Once it has been set up, here are the rules:

– ONLY use Safari as your Apple web-browser for password-related transactions. No more Chrome or Firefox. They save your passwords, alrighty, but don’t allow the same info to flow to all of your current and future devices in the easy-to-access way that Safari does.

– If Safari asks if you want to save or update your password, ALWAYS SAY YES. YES YES YES. Why? Because the folks out there on the other end (Target, Yahoo, whoever) have screwed up really, really spectacularly in the past, and are no longer allowed to ask that question. If Safari asks if you want to save the password, it is because the loving, helpful device in front of you is going to handle it for you from now on, and you can TRUST it. Nobody else has access of any kind to your password: Not Apple, the FBI, scammers. Nobody.

If you are running Windows, there are plenty of excellent password managers out there, of which I know nothing. I will happily defer to my excellent, competent and wise PC buddy Dave Ussell in San Diego (dussell @ ascii27.com) to share any of his recommendations. I only work on Apple devices, and he only works on everything else.

Blocking spam phone calls on an iPhone, for free.

After about a month of daily use, I can recommend “Hiya” for the iPhone. It’s a free app that helps me avoid junky, spammy telemarketers. It is simple, easy to set up, with no annoying ads, and it is free.

After following the setup process, here is how it works:

My iPhone is set up to say “Unknown Caller”, out loud, if they aren’t in my Contacts list. To make this happen on YOUR iPhone, go to Settings -> Phone – Announce Calls.

The phone rings. I hear “Unknown Caller”. I glance at the iPhone’s screen, and right below the incoming number, it says “Telemarketer” or “Scam or Fraud”. If given my wish, it would also emit a loud “AAHH OOOH GAAH!” sound. So, I hit the power button on the side of my iPhone to stop the ringing.  YOUR power button may be on the top right corner.

In any case, I’ve missed a good thirty such calls so far, and I am content.

Intermittent, Flaky Internet, Fixed AGAIN

From Frank:
I don’t want Cox anymore, Fed up!
Does anyone know of a better internet service provider than COX. My connection sucks and it’s 80$ a month. Can anyone recommend a better provider?

From Tony:
The problem is NOT with Cox Cable. You have a middle-aged cable modem. The Internet itself is changing. Your modem cannot keep up, and it crashes.
I fix this problem every working day, professionally:
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Go to Amazon.com, and purchase an Arris SB6190 modem for $112. It is the most modern, high-speed cable modem that I know of, anywhere. I own one, myself. I had the exact same problem, before I got one.
When it arrives, call Cox technical support at (619) 262-1122 and let them know that you have a new cable modem. Make sure that they know that it has been purchased by you, from Amazon. That will save confusion.
When they ask you to read them the numbers off of the box, have the tech repeat them back to you. This will save you possible frustration.
Once they have certified the new cable modem, you will never have intermittent issues, ever again. I stand by that, 100%. Quit suffering, and have really, really good, FAST Internet from now on.
Cancel your home phone line (it has no useful function in case of disaster and loss of power, despite the lies you will be told), and trim the channels that you are paying for.  Make your Internet bill as trim as possible, with highest speed as your highest priority.
If you are currently RENTING your current cable modem, do not get off the phone before they tell you where to deliver the cable modem. They will keep charging you for it, until you bring it back to them.
Oh, and by the way…
There is no good reason on this earth to ever, EVER go with AT&T. It is a pure rip-off. My clients who are using a new cable modem with Cox cable have internet speeds that average between 60 and 189, in the local area.
On AT&T?
Between 3(!) and 30. They will never go any faster, using the current technology. The farther you are from their local station, the slower your Internet will remain. If you are paying for that kind of low speed, you are being screwed.
Oh, and I will believe AT&T’s baloney about “gigablast fiber technology” when I see it. When Net Neutrality became law, AT&T swore that they were never going to finish their fiber project, just to show the rest of us who was boss.
When someone comes to your doorstep and tries to sell you the Miracle of FIBER!!!, ask them how fast it actually is, once it is installed. If it tops out at 30, you’re still looking at plain old phone wires coming into the house, yet again. The fiber stays out on the street, where it doesn’t bring YOU any advantage.

How to turn off Facebook’s “So-and-So is live now” Alerts

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m old, but I believe that I have enough of a life that I don’t care about somebody on Facebook having live video waiting for me.

In my case, I have an Apple Watch, and the pesky buzzing from my wrist tell me “Joe Shlemiel is live now” has become annoying.  I have LOTS of folks on Facebook who know me, and I see the trend increasing.

So, I did some Googling, and found this:

How to Turn Off Facebook’s Pesky Live Video Notifications

Crap. Yet another, NEW way for Macs to be harmed. Free and Easy Fix.

This is new – I just found about it today:

ddos-email-client

Imagine having endless new emails being generated, wildly out of control, with a message saying :”Call this number to end the problem”.  That’s basically the newest hassle.

It’s REALLY important that Mac users upgrade to the newest version of the operating system that their Mac can handle. Apple’s on the job, issuing fixes, but we have to do our part, too.

Here’s how:

Chances are good that your Mac can handle the newest operating system. Click here to see if your Mac complains when you try to install it. SOME Macs are too old:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/macos-sierra/id1127487414?mt=12

If it refuses to instal due to your Mac’s age, then you should be updating to the newest operating system that you can – Call 1-800-MY-APPLE and ask them how to get the newest security updates.

Why do I suggest calling Apple?  Because they removed the older stuff that would benefit aging Macs, so THEY should deal with the folks they have abandoned!

FINALLY – an entirely new, EASY way to get those old photos scanned!

I am very excited. This is a free, totally-useful and fast way to get all of those old photos digitized.  I HAVE a scanner, but I don’t use it.   I have access to other people’s really big, powerful scanners. And yet, decades after having the means, I STILL have three big boxes of miscellaneous old photos that have never been scanned, lurking under my stairs.

Now, there is PhotoScan, a free app from Google that just WORKS with iPhones and Android phones:

I just scanned fifteen old images perfectly, clearly and QUICKLY. No thinking at all – I can listen to an audiobook as I crank through a big pile of images.

I prop up an image in a daylit area so that there is no glare. I make sure that the phone’s flash is turned OFF, to avoid glare. I frame the image on my phone’s screen, and click the button. Four dots appear on the image corners. I move the phone to overlap each corner, and after the fourth dot is touched. it’s done. Next!

This is enormously better than using the slow scanner. In my brief time trying it out, I have achieved what I consider to be perfect results, without any effort at all.img_9098Was it really 42 years ago, when I looked like that?

In my opinion, the final results show up exactly as they appeared in the original photo, with no extra work to be done. Now, I want to schedule some scanning time every morning.

Emergency Alert from your Apple Watch

Disclaimer: I do NOT sell Apple Watches, or any other hardware, or software.  I own no Apple stock.  I just post tips like this periodically, because I love my clients, and they love ME!

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If you have an older Mom or Dad who also owns an iPhone, waiting for Black Friday (November 25, 2016) and buying him or her a discounted Apple Watch might be the nicest thing that you could do for them.

Here is why:

On my Apple Watch, if I hold down the side button for three seconds, it starts a ten-second countdown that would allow me to cancel.  If I choose to let it continue, it contacts emergency services (wherever I am, anywhere on earth) with my exact location, identity, plus the fact that I am diabetic, and violently allergic to penicillin.  It also sends a copy of that same information to up to three of my loved ones.  This service costs nothing, once you have an iPhone and an Apple Watch.

If this sounds like Life Alert (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”), then I agree.  The difference is, the Apple Watch is much more useful than some inert button-thing that you may or may not remember to strap on, after a while.  It watches over your heart-rate, it encourages you to exercise, and it keeps flawlessly accurate time.  I use mine for the timer and reminder functions.  It’s VERY water-resistant, so showering or swimming with it is no big deal.

Even better, it’s GREAT if you are going deaf.  My husband Dennis is gradually losing his hearing, like his older brother and father did (me, too, frankly).  It drove me crazy to call him, and always go to message.  He couldn’t hear the ringer. Now, 100% of the times that I call him and he is available, he gets a tap on the wrist to catch his attention, and he answers.  He can also phone-chat with me through the watch (shades of Dick Tracy!).  I can leave my iPhone in the front of the house, and be back in the garden 100 feet away, and still carry on a conversation through my watch.

I DO suggest increasing the font-size on the Apple Watch, because the text is pretty damn small to start with.

The $269 (before Black Friday discount) Apple Watch also pays for itself pretty fast, compared to Life Alert.  The monthly cost of the basic Life Alert-style system is $29.95.  Besides this monthly cost, users also need to pay for a price of $95 to $115 for Life Alert installation to get started.

Here is how to set up an Apple Watch and iPhone with medical-alert info.

 

Apple’s Version of Life Alert

If you already have an Apple iPhone, and you are getting older (as are we all), this new feature built into the Apple Watch is a mighty helpful addition.
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If you have an Apple Watch running the newest operating system, you can hold down the side button until it offers you a choice to declare an emergency.  If you do, then it will contact 911 and the loved ones that you have added beforehand, telling them your exact location.
So, instead of paying for a monthly service, an Apple Watch can stand in for one of those single-use devices you keep on your wrist, or hanging around your neck.  AND, it’s a mighty useful health-monitor and workout log.  It’s immersible to a depth of three feet for half an hour (150 feet on the newest model), so showering with it is no big deal.
Last time I checked, Best Buy was still selling the first generation of Apple Watch (the one that I use, and love) for as low as $189.  The Target Express at 3030 Grape St, San Diego, CA 92102 (the corner of Fern and Grape) is usually a good source for the excess inventory of the older Apple Watch model.
Dennis and I are going to be traveling in Europe, and this feature even works in any country, automatically!
I even went into the Health app on my iPhone and entered my emergency information, that will be sent to 911:
– I am diabetic, and penicillin will send me into toxic shock
– I am willing to be an organ donor, and
– My husband’s contact-info.
I’m in pretty good shape, but both of my parents died at this same age.  You can’t be too careful!

UPDATE your Apple devices, RIGHT NOW!

This is true for Macintoshes…as well as iPhones and iPads:
In short, an Israeli security-hacking company has created a three-part way to hack into Apple devices, but has been selling it to despotic governments who want to spy upon dissidents and journalists, and to take over every part of their devices.  Once it is in the larger environment, bad people can use it to go after YOU.
So, the answer is to UPDATE your Apple-brand computing equipment, and right away.  All of it:
– On the Mac, pull down the Apple menu, go to Software Update, and perform every update.  If you are not running El Capitan yet, it’s time.
– On your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, go to Settings -> General -> Software Update.
The updates are free, and will improve your life.

From Paula:
I have OS X (.7.5), which I know is old in computer years, and Software Update tells me it’s up to date, i.e. no updates.
Thanks!

From Tony:
The only difference between 10.7 and 10.11 is that there are more bug fixes, and better security. If your Mac is happy with 10.7, it will be quite happy with El Capitan.
In YOUR case, go to the Finder.
Pull down the “Go” menu at the top of the screen.
Choose “Applications”.
Open “App Store”.
Download and install the free El Capitan update.