Thursday, December 19, 2013

Avoid the Windows Technical Support Scam

... and Tips to Avoid ALL Phone Scams from Cyber-Criminals

We aren't just fighting against spam emails anymore – scammers are calling our phones too. Just because someone claims to be calling from a legitimate business, doesn't mean they truly are a representative of that company, nor does it confirm that their intentions are pure.

We've seen a second round of these phone scammers flood our homes and it’s causing serious trouble. Often they start by catching you off guard, tricking you into thinking your computer has been hacked or that it is exhibiting symptoms of a malicious virus. It’s scary to think your sensitive data is insecure, including your passwords, online banking data, social media accounts, credit cards, and client data. This is where they get you - they claim they are helping protect your data.

These callers are aggressive and claim to be from familiar big-name organizations:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Microsoft’s Certified Technician Team
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research & Development Team (Microsoft R&D Team)
  • Brand Name Computer Makers such as “Dell”
  • Brand Name Security Companies such as “Symantec” and “McAfee”

In order to verify your computer has errors, they ask you to perform a variety of tasks:

  • They direct you to look through your computer and read information that could lead to a ‘diagnosis’. Often they are leading you to a list of harmless and low-level error logs.
  • They direct you to fraudulent websites that could load spyware onto your machine.
  • They want you to give them remote access to your computer, so they can do it for you.
  • Then they request credit card information so they can bill you for the phony services they provide.

There are a number of arguments to keep in mind when you receive a call such as this:

Argument # 1: Does the named organization really making their money placing house calls? Absolutely Not! Solving your virus issues via proactive phone calls is not where a huge organization such as Microsoft or Dell is making their money. They have bigger fish to fry; they want to sell you software and hardware.

Argument # 2: Do they actually know WHICH computer has the issue? Because if they are tracking you, they should certainly know and be able to tell you the name of your computer and how you can verify it. Don’t be fooled if they know your name and other personal information, as that data is readily available through a variety of resources online. Just because they know you have a Windows computer isn't validation enough.

Argument # 3: Will they give you their name and phone number to call back? There may be super RARE instances where Microsoft makes a call, but NEVER give your personal information, never give credit card information, never give them access to your computer, and never provide passwords or logins. Maybe they are a good guy, maybe they even want you to speak to their manager, but prove it BEFORE you risk making a mistake… take their information down and call your tech support, or call a techie friend. Do you believe you have a virus on your computer or is this new news to you? The point is, never trust unsolicited calls unless you can confirm it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with which you are already a customer.

Argument # 4: Ask if there is a fee or subscription with the service. If there is, it’s probably a scam.

Argument # 5: Are they asking you to install their special software? Frequently the software these scammers load onto your computer is useless even though the name of the program sounds helpful. And more often than not, the software is actually malware or spyware that is set in place to steal your passwords and other data following your phone call.

If you have been a victim…

These callers are certainly tricky, and we've seen good friends fall to their fear-provoking tactics. If you've already fallen victim, there are some important tasks to complete to protect yourself.
  • Refuse Payment: Call your credit card company and refuse any and all associated costs.
  • Shut Down Your Computer: Do not perform any online banking, purchases, or money transfers until you've verified your computer is spyware and virus-free.
  • Remove Malware & Spyware: Scan your computer for malware or spyware.
  • Change Your Passwords: Change your computer password, your email password, your financial account passwords, and others that you think may be compromised
  • Seek Professional Help: If you are truly concerned, we highly recommend you contact your local tech support or even call the real big-name company your caller claimed to be from.
The disheartening part of this whole scamming trend is that the number of people scammed successfully must be high enough for the scammers to keep trying. Otherwise, the volume of calls would not continue to increase as it has over the past several years. The only way to rise above it is to remain educated and to remain cautious. Protect your personal data as you would protect your family, your health, and your life. Don’t let just anyone in to prod around, and make sure your friends and family know the same.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Email Campaigns & More with Constant Contact

Email Marketing by Constant Contact® is the easy, effective, and highly affordable way to get your message out to your customers, clients, or members-and build strong, successful, and lasting relationships with them. Constant Contacts' simple design view makes it easier than ever to create high-impact email newsletters and promotions in minutes, no technical expertise necessary. With more than 400 easily-customized templates, you can create professional, compelling messages your audience will act on. Constant Contact makes it easy for you to manage your contact lists, sign up website visitors, track your statistics, and send automated communications to new subscribers.

Read more of this article online at www.infopathways.com/tech-tips.aspx

Monday, September 09, 2013

Using Print Screen To Your Advantabe

"Print Screen" is a way to capture an image of your computer screen. You may wonder why it's important to know how to do this. I use "Print Screen" multiple times every day for a variety of reasons... to create snippets of images that I can use in graphics, to more easily provide directions to clients (in White Papers and in Email correspondence), to share error messages to network support... so without further ado, here is InfoPathways' latest White Paper on PRINT SCREEN:

Print Screen: Capture an Image
of Your Computer Screen

Visuals are often better descriptions that words. Print Screen is a wonderfully amazing tool that will make your life a lot easier as a computer user. With today's technology, you can capture an image of your entire monitor screen, you can "snip" a portion of an image to go along with verbiage, you can explain a computer issue by sharing a capture of a pop-up, and much more!

This whitepaper shares a few ways to create images of your computer screen... click below to continue reading!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Turning Website Visitors into Customers

VISIBILITY FOR VISITORS & CALL TO ACTION FOR CUSTOMERS

What is the purpose of your website?

  1. To increase visibility.
  2. To find new customers.
  3. To give people a snapshot of your business.

But, is your website doing this for you?

To increase visibility, your site must be found – are people finding your website? The best way to be found is to understand how search engines rank websites.

Spiders (robots) crawl the World Wide Web to index all its content in order to better respond to searches. These robots begin at popular websites, scanning the webpages for unique content and cataloging words and phrases of interest. When a robot finds a hyperlink, they follow the link and scan the new webpage for unique content and catalog words and phrases of interest. When a robot finds another link…  get the picture? So to be found, your website must be more and more visible than your competitors.

Imagine that you've started a new business and just launched your first website. There is NOTHING online about you or your business, so you have zero online visibility. The first important step is to ensure your website is built properly and that the content is rich with keywords. Now that the first step is complete, what do you do?

Search Engine Algorithms (rules on how Search Engines rank websites) vary from one search engine to the next. Our website’s level of ranking is all a matter of trust – search engines want to see that you are following the rules of online engagement and that you are a real business that will be around for a long time… Commitment. Time. Honesty. Investment. Consistency. Pursue your online marketing tactics around these values, and your website’s visibility will excel!

One way to help a website gain visibility is through Organic Search Engine Optimization commonly referred to as ‘SEO’. Organic SEO techniques are free online marketing techniques that may at first show slow results, but they last long-term. Think about Organic SEO as spreading your digital footprint. Reliable sources online can be used to mention your business, post quality content, and link back to your website.

Here are a few ideas that will help you succeed:

Search Engine Profiles
Social Media
Press Releases
Directory Submissions
Blogging & Article Submissions
Industry Association Membership Profiles
Video Marketing
And don’t forget all the OFFLINE marketing!

Learning how to use these resources correctly for better rankings in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) is key to successful link building. Once you find yourself comfortable online, these efforts truly do not consume much time nor are they difficult. All it takes is a little knowhow which is best gained by research and experience.

Now you’re bringing in website visitors… are you keeping them engaged?

It’s time to learn about your web visitor’s trends. A great asset to your website is Google Analytics – a free online tool to track your website visitors and their actions. Google Analytics will tell you if your visitors stick around. Why invest all this time drawing the audience in if they don’t stay?

The work you pursue to bring an audience to your website must not end once a web surfer lands on your website. You need to think about your customer's thought process, thinking about what they want and how you can hook them and motivate them to take action. Having a website just to have a website is a wasted effort. Your website's purpose is to work for you, whether it is generating phone calls, emails, quote requests, creating revenue, building your email list, or other areas of benefit. To get the calls, emails, and requests, you must consider your “Call to Action” items.

So the first decision you need to make is... What do you want to convince your website visitor to do?

The second decision is... How do you get the web visitor to take the desired action? Can you offer something free? Is there a unique factor to your products or services that others cannot offer? Can you phrase your message in a way that leaves your readers wowed? Graphics are the first attention getter, but then it's your words that will make visitors act. You must be creative with your approach, using education, entertainment, or emotion to grab your audience!

As time passes, it’s important to check Google Analytics again. Analyze whether or not your new approach is resulting in more visitors that stay on your website, look through more pages, or who stay for longer periods of time, and follow through on the action items you presented. And if you are committed to your online marketing efforts, keep an eye on the increase or decrease of visitors per day to see the impact you are making.

The best way to excel at something is to
empower yourself with the knowledge!