Even with a credit freeze, crooks are finding ways to open mobile accounts in your name.
We’ve dealt with the subject of identity theft and credit freezes in previous newsletters. Some of you have taken the steps to freeze your credit so identity thieves can’t open new credit cards in your name. What about your mobile phone account? That’s protected by a credit freeze with the three big credit bureaus, right?
Crooks are finding new ways to open new mobile phone accounts using names of people who already froze their credit. That’s because mobile phone merchants don’t rely on the major credit bureaus. Instead, the mobile providers make their credit inquiries with the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE).
NCTUE is a “shadow” 4th credit bureau – a separate credit check system used by mobile phone companies, utilities, and cable providers. Unless you freeze with NCTUE, fraudsters may be able to sign up for service in your name even if you’ve frozen your credit with the Big 3. You must freeze your telecom credit with NCTUE if you want protection.
So far, so good, right? Well, there’s good news and bad news. First, the good news. NCTUE can freeze your mobile credit accounts. The bad news is that if you try to do it online, it’s a time-suck of gargantuan proportions! That’s because the program is handled by Equifax, one of the big three credit bureaus. Remember the now-infamous Equifax data breach? Between convoluted instructions and pages that show serious warnings on Google Chrome, the process can be quite frustrating.
Fortunately, you can do this easily with a phone call to NCTUE. Here's what you need to know in a nutshell:
To learn more, visit the NCTUE home page. But do yourself a favor: take our advice and get your telecom credit freeze by phone!
Need help with the technology in your life? Make an appointment with Asheville Digital Lifestyle today.
Calls from "Apple" or "Mictosoft" are coming in daily. Hang up! They are scammers.
The calls are coming in fast and furious. They say your computer has a virus, or they want to sell you a "protection" plan. Ironically, it's THEM you need protection against.
Just hang up! Don't give them any personal information, and NEVER give them remote access to your computer. Block their phone number so you don't get any more calls from them – but beware! They have multiple numbers.
Calls like these are why you need to enroll in Jensen's Cybersecurity Class for Small Business, May 5. 2018, from 9 am - noon. Click below to register.
Fake error message! Never call a number and give out any information. Don't click. Force quit!
Ever had your computer go “wonky” on you? A system error pops up, and you want to share a picture of your screen with someone who can help you figure out what to do next (such as Asheville Digital Lifestyle). What’s the easiest way to take a picture of your screen?
On a PC
All you have to do is press two keys, CTRL and Print Scrn (in the upper right corner of your keyboard). You can then paste the screenshot into an email or Word document (Press CTRL and the letter V to paste).
On a Mac
You need to press three keys if you’re on a Mac: hold down COMMAND and SHIFT, then tap 3. A screenshot will appear on the Desktop with today's date in the file name, which you can then attach to an email (in the Mac Mail app, use the paperclip button, highlighted in purple at the upper right of the screen shown below).
Now if one of those troublesome messages pops up on your computer screen, you know how to take a picture and send it to Jensen for advice.
Need a tech tune-up? Call Jensen at Asheville Digital Lifestyle today. 828-354-0371
Is your WiFi network up to snuff? Click here for a free speed test from SpeedTest.net.
Need to test your smart phone? Click here.
How fast should your Wi-Fi be? Streaming a single high definition video requires 10 Mbps of download speed. Multiple devices stack, so a typical 2 person household will want at least a 30 Mpbs download speed to allow for a speedy connection even with multiple devices playing video while others surf the internet.
Looking at speed test results, Ping is how quickly your requests to the internet are processed. Jitter is how stable your speed is. Any Packet Loss means your connection will be slower because not everything you send is making it to the server (a sign of an equipment issue or low-quality connection).
Most internet connections are affected by how many of your neighbors are watching Netflix, so you may find a test during the evening is slower than a test in the middle of the day.
If your eyes glaze over from the technical details, Asheville Digital Lifestyle can perform these tests for you, ensure your Internet and WiFi are in tip-top condition, and help update your gear if you don’t pass the speed test. Make an appointment today!
Pexels.com photo. CC0 license
Do you have a Smart TV? What makes it so smart? Generally speaking, what makes a TV smart is a connection to the Internet. Today’s TVs hook up to the net via WiFi, but you'll need a strong Wireless Router system to stream in High Definition.
Smart TVs make it easy to watch streaming content, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Recently they’ve become more computer-like, accepting voice commands and offering the ability to stream the screen from your smartphone.
Not long ago you needed an external box to take advantage of streaming services like Roku or Apple TV, but today many smart TVs come with robust streaming features already installed. Read more about Smart TV features here.
Are you trying Smart TV for the first time? It’s not always easy to choose the right Smart TV setup or ensure that your WiFi is working well enough to stream in High Definition. Asheville Digital Lifestyle can make it easy and stress-free for you, helping you through the process.
While we’re at it, if it connects to your WiFi network, Asheville Digital Lifestyle can help you set it up and ensure everything is working properly.
ADL Security tip
How can you tell if your antivirus app is protecting you? Every antivirus program has an icon with its logo that remains on your screen (upper right on Mac and lower right on Windows).
Familiarize yourself with that icon and every time you boot your computer, check that the icon is there and that there isn’t a warning (typically an exclamation point over the icon).
Need a Digital Security Blanket?
Malware is on the rise, and computer hard drives are fragile. BackBlaze Cloud Backup automatically backs up all of your personal files to a data center, which means if your computer fails, is taken down by a virus, or even if there's fire or flood damage, a safe copy of your data will be available to download. Read more about BackBlaze here.
Asheville Digital Lifestyle can do a full security checkup on your technology including backup, security scans, and other crucial steps to ensure your personal information stays safe.
Pexels.com photo. CC0 license.
Online searches for identity theft programs have skyrocketed since the recent Experian data breach. As identity theft protection services are poised to become a multi-million dollar business, the big question we should be asking ourselves is, “Are they worth the money?” The answer might surprise you. Probably not!
Ironically, the data you must divulge to these companies makes you more vulnerable to exposure in the event of a data breach. Another factor is while these services may benefit folks who already are the victims of a data breach, they don’t offer much in the way of preventive measures. What they offer is akin to insurance that may help you if your identity is compromised or stolen. However, you may already have this kind of insurance through your credit cards, by way of Visa and MasterCard “zero liability rules.”
A much better way to keep your identity (and your credit) safe is by placing a credit freeze on your accounts. Please click here to read our earlier blog post about using a free credit freeze for protection.
The bottom line: As tempting as identity theft programs may seem, there are better ways to stay safe.
Click on this link to learn more about why identity theft prevention services may not be worth the money.
Unsure about how to protect yourself and your computer from hackers? Make an appointment with Jensen to review your options.
Pexels.com photo. CC0 license.
Is anybody safe these days from credit card fraud and identity theft? The recent Equifax credit data breach seems to imply that even the big players are not secure from hackers and thieves.
Don’t panic. While nothing is foolproof any more, there are some strong steps you can take to protect your credit from hucksters and thieves. One of the best is the credit freeze.
Wikipedia tells us that each year about 15% of identity theft cases involve new accounts. Criminals open credit in someone else’s name. Since banks and lenders require a credit report before opening an account, locking this information out with a credit freeze is an effective way to prevent anyone from opening a card in your name. Keep in mind, however, it will also keep you from opening new accounts unless you remove the credit freeze.
Click here to learn more about using a credit freeze to protect yourself from identity theft.
Protect your email password
Your email account is your key to the digital kingdom. Keep it secret; keep it safe!
When choosing an email password, go for something unique and impossible to guess. Never use your birthday or something people know about you. For example, if you drive a Rav4, don’t make your password Rav4. Also, given the number of data breaches, assume that any information held by the government such as your social security number and date of birth are out there in the criminal undergrond.
Choose a password that is not easy to guess. It must not not contain any personal information (social security number, phone number, street number, etc.) that could be gleaned from a credit report or information you've given to the government. Your password could be a nonsensical sentence. For example, Chickens4love2run!
If thinking up obscure passwords and organizing them becomes too much of a chore, Asheville Digital Lifestyle can help you setup a password management system such as Dashlane or 1Password.
Pexels.com photo. CC0 license.
If you own an Apple device you have already seen a notice to upgrade to the new OS and iOS .The new systems have been out for a few weeks now with no signs of major problems, but those who wish to be cautious may want to wait a bit longer, just to be on the safe side.
The latest versions of MacOS and iOS have bug fixes for the built-in programs, and you must be running a recent system to receive important security updates. Plus, your get nifty new features, such as Multitasking and a new App Dock on the iPad that can make your older device feel new again.
For the iPhone
iOS 11 has generally been a smooth upgrade for folks. However, it’s important to know that apps which have been abandoned by their developers will not work in the new system. These old abandoned apps are known as 32-bit apps. To double check whether you have any 32-bit apps on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings -> General -> About -> Applications.
Need help updating your devices and making sure your apps are compatible? Make an appointment with Asheville Digital Lifestyle, and Jensen will come to your office or home to get all your devices running smoothly.
CrashPlan for Home is being discontinued. We’ve been recommending and installing it for years, and recently we’ve been getting calls and emails from clients wondering what to do next. Here’s our best advice.
First, don’t panic! If you are subscribed to CrashPlan to backup your computer, your existing subscription will continue to work through October 2018, and you get an extra 60 days subscription to give you plenty of time to decide your next step.
CrashPlan will continue offering a backup service for small business, but it will cost double the $60 price of the Home Service. For many people it’s just not the right solution.
CrashPlan is guiding its customers towards Carbonite, the most well-known cloud backup service. However, Internet consensus is that in CrashPlan’s wake, the best cloud backup system may well be BackBlaze.
BackBlaze is an excellent replacement for CrashPlan and a solid online backup system designed for everyday people. Some benefits include:
Jensen Gelfond is the Owner Asheville Digital Lifestyle, helps people use their technology more effectively and joyfully.