Friday, July 18, 2014

Top 10 Fixes for Common Computer Problems

 There are questions that are unanswerable for most when coming across issues with your PC.

Many people look at their devices and have no idea how to start fixing the problem.

This article from PC World will provide you with helpful tips to deal with your computer obstacles and resolve issues regarding blue screen, slow run times, and recovery & backup.

Per PC Advisor/

From backups to BSODs, Lincoln Spector lists the top 10 tips he gathered from the past two years of Answers Line letters.


Top 10 Fixes for Computer Problems

Here are 10 Answer Line articles from the last two years that every Windows user should read.

1. Attack of the Blue Screen of Death
You’re working on an important project, and suddenly your screen displays nothing but white text against a blue background. If it happens once, you curse, reboot, and hope for the best. But if you’re getting these BSODs frequently, you’ve got a problem that needs fixing.

Brewski13 had such a problem, and I provided advice for diagnosing, and hopefully fixing, the underlying cause.

2. How to recover deleted files
Now you see them, now you don’t. Files are like that sometimes.

So where are they? Are you sure you don’t have a backup somewhere? Files can hide in the Recycle Bin and “empty” sectors of your hard drive, even if you’ve deleted them.

Megan Aitken’s partner lost “a load of photos.” I walked her, and other readers, through the steps toward recovery.

3. Introduction to backup
I don’t get a lot of questions about backup. I sure get a lot from people who should have backed up, though.

Scarcely a week goes by without at least one email from a terrified reader with a crashed disk or an overwritten file. I remember a grad student who lost a laptop with all the notes for his dissertation.

Rickaber asked the right question. Before disaster hit, he wanted someone to explain the basics of backing up. I was happy to oblige.

4. Protect your privacy while you browse
What once sounded like paranoia is now common sense. Steve asked for safe and secure ways to access the Internet without being tracked by crooks, corporations, and governments.

While there’s no such thing as complete,  perfect privacy or security, you can use plenty of tricks to provide a reasonable degree of anonymity. You can use your browser’s private mode, then supplement that mode with the right add-ons. You can also replace that browser with one designed to keep your real self a secret.

When Steve asked, I explained the options.

5. Speed up a slow PC without buying new hardware
If a once-fast computer has slowed to a crawl, you can’t really blame the hardware. Sure, you can speed things up by adding RAM, upgrading the CPU, or replacing the hard drive with an SSD. But none of those solutions–all of which cost money–address the underlying problem. Your hardware isn’t necessarily underpowered. It’s probably just overloaded.

Gamersim17 complained that his PC was “moving extremely slowly and not performing like it should.” I provided advice for identifying and removing the software that slowed it down.

6. Is one antivirus program really better than two?
Arcticsid made the mistake of installing one antivirus program on a new PC that already had another.

Running two antivirus programs is a bit like mixing a fine, vintage Cabernet with breakfast cereal. Each is good in its own right, but the combination may have unpleasant side effects.

My original article explains the issues and offers a better way to get a second opinion on your system’s health.

7. How to securely wipe sensitive files–or your entire hard drive
When you delete a file, the data doesn’t actually go away–even after you’ve emptied the Recycle Bin. The actual bits remain written on the drive until some other disk activity writes over them. Even when you format a drive, the files are still there for those who want and know how to read them.

That’s good news if you’ve lost some files. It’s not so great if you truly want a file to go away, or if you’re giving away an old PC and to want make sure that your private records won’t be accessible. You have to take special steps to protect yourself.

I give Rommel advice on how to remove files so that no one can get them.

8. An obscenely slow Internet connection when you’re paying for a fast one
Interronator was paying Time Warner for 20mbps Internet service, but was only getting about 0.7.

Almost no one gets the Internet performance that their ISP advertises, but the difference between advertised and real speed should be reasonably close.

Is the fault in your equipment, or is your ISP to blame? I provide step-by-step diagnostics to help you identify the bottleneck.

9. How to archive files so they’ll stay around for years
Nothing lasts forever, but you want at least some of your files to last a very long time. So it was no surprise when Daisky asked about making family photos available to future generations.

No one is really sure how long you can archive digital files so that your great-grandchildren will enjoy them. In fact, no one is really sure if it’s possible.

If you follow my suggestions, you’ll increase the odds of preserving your precious digital memories. But you won’t really be sure of your success for a few decades.

10. Actually, you do need to share your passwords
As I just said, nothing lasts forever. And that includes you and me.

When we die, loved ones will need access to our bank accounts, email accounts, and the encrypted parts of our computers. So, despite the generally good advice about not sharing passwords, there is one big exception. You must find someone you can trust with that information, and make sure they can access your various passwords.

By Lincoln Spector

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This Day in Tech History: July 9

Gil Amelio Ousted from Apple


Today in tech history on July 9, 1997,  Apple Computer announced the resignation of Gil Amelio as CEO.
Amelio was ousted by the board of directors and his departure paved the way for Steve Jobs to re-take command of Apple.

It was the ousting of  Amelio who brought Mr.Jobs back into Apple by purchasing Jobs’ company NeXT .
NeXT was used as a basis for the Mac operating system.

Donkey Kong and Mario’s Birthday


On July 9, 1981, the two most famous character video games were released for sale.

Donkey Kong, created by Nintendo, a Japanese playing card and toy company turned into an enthusiastic video game developer.

The game took off in the North American market.

The video game had challenges with acquiring a license to create a video game based on the Popeye character.

Nintendo decided to create a game depicting the characteristics and constant battle between Popeye and Bluto.

Donkey Kong is named after the game’s villain, which is a  pet gorilla that has gone rogue.

The game’s original hero was called Jumpman, but then renamed Mario, once the game became popular and Nintendo decided to use the character in future games.

The similarity between Donkey Kong and King Kong landed Nintendo with a lawsuit.

Because Kong, is a common Japanese slang for gorilla, the lawsuit was ruled in favor of Nintendo.

Donkey Kong successfully helped Nintendo become one of the dominant companies in the video game market.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.

Brown, Marcel
This Day in Tech History

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Microsoft Patch Inconsistencies

Microsoft-Patch It's been a busy week for Microsoft. The email patch on Tuesday was stopped by Microsoft, then they changed their mind. The Redmondians (Microsoft's headquarters ) sent out a decree last Friday stating that email notifications of security advisories are coming to a stop on July 1st. The decree mentions "changing governmental policies concerning the insurance of automated electronic messaging". This new Canadian anti-spam law takes effect on July 1st. The announcement is as followed:
Notice to IT professionals:
As of July 1, 2014, due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging, Microsoft is suspending the use of email notifications that announce the following:
* Security bulletin advance notifications
* Security bulletin summaries
* New security advisories and bulletins
* Major and minor revisions to security advisories and bulletins
The new law attempts to rid of annoying spam email, it is required to consent for a commercial business to communicate through email, text message and social media messages. Canada's moving from email opt-OUT to email opt-IN. Penalties stated in the notice say, if your business sends a notice of a special sale to someone who only signed up for an e-newsletter, and the party complains then:
  • Your business may be fined up to $10,000,000
  • Your CEO, and each officer, may be fined up to $1,000,000
  • Your Marketing Agency may be fined up to $10,000,000
  • You, as an individual, may be fined $10,000
Canada couldn't understand how Microsoft could be misreading the law like this. Neil Schwartzman, executive director of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), and CASL accommodates emails concerning warranty and product safety and security alerts. This means Microsoft's security advisories would be exempt.
He quotes Schwartzman:
I am at a complete and total loss to understand how the people in Redmond made such an apparently panicked decision ... This is the first company I know of that’s been that dumb.
CAUCE board member Jeff Williams, a former group program manager at Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center, told Krebs that Microsoft’s decision likely could be attributed to having come out of a tough choice rather than a lack of legal understanding or grey matter:
I can imagine the discussion and wondering among the lawyers and [Microsoft] whether they should try to get hundreds of millions of opt-ins before June 30 or if they should change the way they share info. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, but I wouldn’t call it an overreaction.
But, fear not, Microsoft has now performed a restart on its security notifications. A spokesperson told Brian Krebs late yesterday that Microsoft will be re-starting its emails early in July.
On June 27, 2014, Microsoft notified customers that we were suspending Microsoft Security Notifications due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging. We have reviewed our processes and will resume these security notifications with our monthly Advanced Notification Service (ANS) on July 3, 2014. [via: NakedSecurity]
We stay up-to-date on patches and notifications, stay tunes with us for more updates! Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet, “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+. Referenced: Vaas, Lisa Microsoft stops Patch Tuesday emails, blames Canada, then does U-turn Published: July 1, 2014

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Publishers Clearing House Scam Alert


Everyone wants to win the lottery!  There’s a dream within all of us that wins a ginormous amount of money or a major sweepstakes.

Sometimes people get too caught up in the idea of becoming a millionaire and lose touch with reality.

There’s something about the chance of winning something great that gets us to fantasize the possibility of it really happening.

This is an avenue that con artists take advantage of.


Often, Publishers Clearing House, a legitimate business, is used as bait.

The multi-million dollar giveaway from Publishers Clearing House are among the highest paying sweepstakes that receives millions of entries weekly.

So how do you know if you are entering into a legitimate sweepstakes or a scam?
  • If you receive an email, telephone call, or bulk mail letter saying that you’ve won a big prize, it’s a scam.  If you actually won anything from PCH, you would receive a certified or express letter or get an in person visit!
  • Receiving a check does not mean it’s a valid.  It’s nothing more than a piece of paper.
  • Never trust anyone asking you to send them money.  PCH will not ask you to send them money in order to receive money.
Here are a few emails received from the fake PCH:
“I just received a notice in the mail supposedly from Publishers Clearing House. They are saying that I have won a sweepstakes. Is this real?”
“I received a win letter along with a check from Publishers Clearing House to cover expenses. Did I really win?”
“Publishers Clearing House keeps calling and saying I’ve won $100,000,000. They say I have to pay 1% in taxes before they release the prize. What should I do?”

You can go directly to the site to get more tips  from here.
Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.

Lawrence, Shelby
Publishers Clearing House Scam Alert – ArkLaTex…

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Computer Security


Being in the Internet Age, we use computers to pay bills online, go shopping, take college courses, and endlessly entertain ourselves.

Before you allow the computer to consume your whole life, take the necessary steps to ensure your finances stay personal.

  1.  Use passwords for protection
  2. Get your guard up
  3. Up the ‘anti’ with software
  4. Run scans to stay current
  5. Take wireless precautions
  6. Pump up password protocol
  7. Watch out for attachments and downloads
  8. Avoid going public
  9. Watch your phones and PDAs
  10. Clean up your computer

These are all ‘best practices’ for technical security precautions.

Following these precautions will help you keep your data and personal information safe.  Be sure to never run your computer as administrator unless you must do so for a specific task.

Maintain your software and be sure to run updates on your device.

By backing up your data frequently, you protect your files and hinders your operating system from crashing.    This will also prevent hardware failure and virus attacks.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.

Allebrand, Cheryl
10 tips to computer security – Bankrate…
Best practices for computer security – Indiana University

Monday, June 23, 2014

USPS Email Scam

A USPS email scam leads users to malicious computer malware.

A woman has claimed that she cant get rid of the malware that was put on her computer from a bogus U.S. Postal Service email came through.

The woman received an email with a shipping label link in it.  She clicked on the link for the shipping label and realized she may have done something wrong.  With the uneasy feeling of potentially clicking on something that isn’t trusted, she ran a computer scan and found that her device was infected with a data-stealing virus from the bogus link.

The woman said she received an email from claiming that a package could not be delivered to her residence.

“Your parcel has arrived at May 24, 2014. Courier was unable to deliver the parcel to you,” stated the email.
“Print your label and show it in the nearest post office to get a parcel.”

The email had the link, “Print Shipping Label” to get the proper package identification, displayed at the bottom.

The real USPS email states that they do not contact customers via email if a package could not be delivered.

USPS is aware of this scam along with others like it.  They have posted a warning on their website cautioning customers about the situation.

Clicking the link activates a virus, which can steal personal information like user names, passwords, and other private data stored on your computer.

If you receive this email, delete the message and report the spam at

This marketing scam has already been uncovered by the Postal Inspection Service where fraudsters mask themselves as USPS employees and calling residents requesting D.O.B. along with SSN for package deliveries.

Always check suspicious emails for; poor grammar, spelling errors, funny formats, and security symbols in the url.

The email received by residents, states that a parcel has arrived “at” May 24th.  Also, the sender information on the “From” line for the email address states “donotreply?, not a

It is advised for anyone who received on of these scam email to forward it to  Or recipients may call the postal inspection service at 1-877-876-2455.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.

Marquez, Homer
Fake USPS email leads to malware – MyPlainview

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Start using hashtags when shopping online


Amazon, the online e-commerce giant, wants you to begin using hashtags when shopping on their website.

The company’s new hashtag #AmazonCart and #AmazonBasket rolled out last month with mediocre popularity.

This is designed to make it easy to add items to your shopping cart without leaving your Twitter feed.

This new hashtag shopping tactic is a way to attract new, socially savvy, consumers to spend more time on the Twitter smartphone app.

“Twitter offers a great environment for our customers to discover product recommendations from artists, experts, brands and friends,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.

Making purchases through Twitter may come off as not going together, but it is just another way the Internet is changing our shopping habits.

This isn’t the first account of social media integrating with online shopping.  In 2012, Facebook started to let users send each other actual gifts through the timeline.

This method didn’t last long, nor was it popular.


Chinese social network Weibo, which is the Chinese version of Twitter, launched a “buy” button last year.

This was done with the partnership of an e-commerce company Alibaba.


Chirpify is another similar shopping campaign on Twitter that allows brands and agencies to leverage social channels through hashtags.  They have been in business for two years now.

Many businesses create campaigns with ‘Action hashtags’ to trigger accelerated internet marketing.  #Win a free t-shirt! #$25GiftCard, or #EnterToWin.

#AmazonCart will send an item to a cart, the @MyAmazon  account sent from Twitter, will automatically respond to the action hashtag tweets delivering 3,357 tweets replying to the action hashtag #AmazonCart.

Amazon’s official Twitter accounts have promoted hashtags and brands through this means.


Amazon and Twitter have partnered to strengthen their mobile social network and sales conversions.

Consumers are increasingly spending time on their phones instead of PCs.  It just makes sense for Amazon to campaign with Twitter.  78% of Twitter users access their site through a mobile device.

Amazon is campaigning for not only mobile users but also for the power of social media to advertise and make people want to buy more, according to CRT Capital Group Analyst Neil Doshi.

“Amazon has a very strong mobile presence, that is a tailwind for its e-commerce business,” he said. “Using Twitter just shows that Amazon is willing to use social mobile experiences to drive more sales. But, we wonder how many Twitter users would use this feature, as it might be a new way to shop.”

This is a chance for Amazon to change the perception of social shopping.   Across the board, convenience, speed, and mobility will improve any business.

Would you purchase through #AmazonCart from Twitter?  Do you think this will help or hurt shopping carts?  Please leave your comments below!

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet,  “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.


Why Amazon wants you to use Twitter hashtags to shop – C|Net
Published: May 6, 2014

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WARNING: Chinese Smartphones Contain Built-In Android Malware

There is a Chinese clone of the Samsung smartphone that steals personal data using a virus disguised as Google Play!

A Chinese Android smartphone that is selling on Amazon, eBay and other online stores have been found to contain a virus that pretends to be the Google Play Store.

This virus steals the user’s data when logged onto the bogus store.

The Star N9500, is resemblance to the Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Android smartphone.  It is manufactured in China but the phone is sold through resellers located in Belfast and Hong Kong.

The Trojan is known  as “Uupay.D“, its disguised as the Google Play Store.  It is pre-installed on the Android smartphone with no way to be removed by the user, according to German security company G Data.

G Data has analyzed one of the smartphones purchased directly from the factory in China and verified its vulnerability.

The scary aspect of this, is that online criminals have full access to these smartphones.

All Access

The malware attached to these Androids, steal personal data from the phone and sends it to an anonymous server located in China.  This Android malware is also capable of installing additional applications or viruses without the user’s knowledge.


The only thing users see is an app with the Google Play Store icon in the running process.  The virus enables criminals to track the location of the smartphone, intercept and record phone calls, make purchases and send premium text messages without the user’s permission.  All completely discrete and disguised.

The authentic phone usually costs £500 while the Chinese smartphones are going for £120.  Users are noticing reviews on this product range from one to five stars.  Although, they are complaining about the poor quality and noticing the phone starts to break down after a couple of months.

The device is offered with an extensive list of accessories which includes a second battery, car charging adapter and second cover.

The low price of a smartphone with such a wide range of features is a criminal tactic, according to Geschkat, a product manager at G Data.

Buyers Beware:  Cheap offers online that seem tempting should make buyers suspicious.  There is no such thing as free.

Android accounted for 97% of the malware targeted at mobile devices last year.  This is an increase of 20% a year, according to data from a security firm F-Secure.

Even though this malware is already installed onto these devices from the Google Play store, it accounts for only 0.1% of malware.

Malware from these Android’s can’t be blamed for all accounts.

The majority of all malware is downloaded from third-party app stores including the Chinese stores Baidu and Anzhi, where access to Google Play is restricted.

Have you come across these phones?  We’d love to hear from you, please leave your comments below!


Gibbs, Samuel
Chinese smartphone on sale on Amazon and eBay contains built-in malware – TheGuardian
Published: June 18, 2014

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Monday, June 16, 2014

‘Prayers for Likes’ Facebook Scam

Pictures of sick babies circulate through social media sites, especially through Facebook.

These images are of sick children, less fortunate families, and persons with deformities.

Facebook and Microsoft

Specifically, a sick baby with hospital equipment in the background which claims that liking the image equates to a prayer for the child while sharing equates to one hundred prayers.

The disgraceful scam is designed to accumulate likes for a Facebook Page and promote the Page for more shares.

The image of the baby was stolen from a personal Facebook profile and is being circulated without the baby’s parents permission.

This is how most Facebook scams work.  Pictures are distributed and not authorized to be shared, then stolen from its rightful owners.

Tragically, the baby in the picture passed away only two weeks after she was born.

The message continued to circulate, causing great distress to the baby’s family.

If you see messages like this on Facebook, please do not like or share it.


Like farming and sharing messages will not help the baby or the baby’s family in any way.  The message is just a tic in the long branch of sick baby hoaxes that falsely claim that you can help a baby by liking or sharing the message.


Some messages claim that money will be donated in exchange for liking or sharing.  Others declare that liking and sharing equates to prayers for the child.

The people who create these messages are driven by greed and selfishness.

This precious baby passed away April 2014, just weeks after she was born.

Whether or not you believe that prayers will help, the real intention of this scam is not pure.

Facebook has removed some of these messages and continues to take them down in a timely manner.

Although, there have been numerous reports, there are still some messages that continue to circulate with no action taken.

If you see scams  like this, please report them to Facebook as soon as possible.

Report a scam:

What Facebook scams have you come across lately?  Please share your experience and help us take control over these cruel messages.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet, “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.


‘Prayers for Likes’ Facebook Sick Baby Scam – Hoax-Slayer

Friday, June 13, 2014

This Day In Tech History: June 13, 2014

June 13, 1993:  Microsoft and Time-Warner Release Interactive TV

In 1993, Microsoft teamed up with Tele-communications and Time Warner to begin the innovative “Interactive TV”.

Consumers were able to purchase products right through the set during a show.

iTV would give users a Digital Set Top Box so the users could use and browse, then go back and continue to watch the video.

The iTV connected to a telephone to let you know who is calling and also allowed you to receive a SMS.

This has greatly influenced pop-culture.  The software allows consumers to bank, shop and surf the web.
Also, this day in history:

  • Pioneer space probe crossed Neptune in 1983
  • Series of Brazilian websites were hacked by Analysta in 2000
  • 2.4.21 of LINUX kernel was released in 2003
  • Microsoft ceased development of IE or the Macintosh in 2003
  • IE for MAC shut down in 2003
  • Fedora Core 4 was released 2005
  • Music piracy had been contained from file sharing in 2006
  • Vincent Farrari tried to cancel his AOL account, but the agent refused to in 2006.
  • Jeffrey Goodin is the first to be sentenced 70 months in jail because of the CAN-SPAM act.  He was posing as an AOL billing agent.

We are again making history today with the “Super Moon” or the “Honey Moon”.  It is the only full moon at its closest to the earth on a Friday 13th until 2049.  We haven’t seen a moon like this in over 100 yrs.

The moon will look larger in the sky, sitting low on the horizon with a honey hue to it.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet, “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.


Powers, Jeffrey
June 13, 2014: Honey Moon, 1993: Interactive Television from Microsoft
Published: June 13, 2014

This entry was posted in news and tagged .
Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. Edit

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Half of U.S. Adults have been hacked: Are you one of them?


AARP has estimated, nearly half of all adult Americans have been hacked in the past year.  The Better Business Bureau said 1 in 5 of all victims are college students or in their twenties.

Identity theft is exponentially rising while users aren’t realizing the true risk that is posed.

Roughly, 432 million online accounts that belong to 110 million Americans, which are half of all adults were hacked in cyber-attacks in the past year.

Consumer Reports estimates that 11 million Americans were victimized from email scams in 2013.

This year alone, there have been 260 breaches that have occurred in health facilities, exposing the sensitive data of 8 million people.

Could this be from health care facilities still using Microsoft Windows XP?  The software is no longer supported and vulnerable to zero-day exploits.

From coffee shops to corporate networks, grocery stores to airports, two-thirds of surfers have nothing to protect themselves.

AARP has launched Fraud Watch Network, where you can get access to information about how to protect yourself and stay alert on the latest tricks and scams.

The best ways to safeguard your personal data are:
  1. Don’t share if you don’t have to
  2. Monitor your finances
  3. Protect your electronic devices and accounts
  4. Leave a paper trail
  5. Don’t trust everyone
Studies have shown that from the ages of 18 to 24, in the average of 132 days, they’ve been scammed.
That’s five times larger than the national average.

This goes to show why university computers are popular targets for cyber-criminals.

This year nearly 840,000 private records were exposed in breach attacks in at least 12 universities.
Universities affected are: University of Maryland, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Iowa State, University of Minnesota, Auburn University College of Business, University of Wisconsin, Loyola Law School and North Dakota University.

Also, there were 5,000 records hacked in 10 data breaches of financial institutions, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Reducing identity theft includes:
  • Monitoring financing accounts
  • Keeping checkbooks and statements
  • Securely storing computers and all devices
  • Avoiding Wi-Fi networks when shopping online
  • Reading reviews before installing apps
  • Decline free game downloads, music, and screen savers
  • Adjust privacy settings for your social network sites
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards for liability protection
  • Shredding solicitations for pre-approved credit cards
You can opt out of certain solicitations at

For information on other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network.

Don’t miss out on the latest tech news and computer security alerts! Follow us on Twitter at @hyphenet, “Like” us on Facebook or add us to your circle on Google+.


Kirchheimer, Sid
Half of U.S. Adults Hacked: Are You Among Them? – AARP Blog
June 6, 2014

Kirchheimer, Sid
College Students: Ideal for ID Theft – AARP Blog…