Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Phone Scammers are Using Real Phone Numbers - So PLEASE COMPLAIN to the FTC

Today I got a call from the Social Security Administration.  The Caller ID read 1-800-325-0778, which is the SSA's phone number for TTY calls.

Screenshot of SSA's Phone Numbers
I left the call go to voicemail.  A message was left, and it was a robocall.  Here's a screenshot of the visual voicemail: 

So do I block this caller ID against future calls?  Yes.  I am not deaf, so I do not expect to get calls from this phone number, except for more robocalls.

However, much more importantly, I reported this call to the FCC.  The thing is, scammers can use whatever phone numbers they choose, including Comcast's, your bank's local branch, the White House, or even your own phone number. 

Between the phone companies and the FCC, they need to resolve this issue of faked Caller ID numbers.  They will only do it when there is enough noise from the public.  So, go to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, and choose Imposter or Scam, then fill out as much as possible.  Not every field is required.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sign up for the Free USPS Informed Delivery ... before someone else does!

At first I thought that USPS.com's Informed Delivery was clever but not all that important.  My thoughts have changed.  In a BIG WAY.

U.S. Secret Service is warning of cybercriminals using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) “Informed Delivery,” feature to commit various identity theft and credit card fraud schemes.

I HIGHLY recommend that everyone sign up for USPS's Informed Delivery.  It is free and it prevents fraudsters from claiming your account & address first, then ordering credit cards in your name, and then knowing when to pick up your mail as cards are delivered.

I use it primarily to see when important mail and packages are expected and delivered.

But, from SC Media's article highlighting the Secret Service's findings, I see that it is more than simply a convenience.

Of course, I do hope the USPS will make these accounts more secure for mail recipients, but I'm not betting on that happening anytime soon.  As it is, when I use my USPS.com account to hold my mail, apparently the separate USPS service that deliver many of USPS packages or packages from other couriers (including FedEx and UPS and DHL) do not get the same message to hold packages.  I suppose I need to complain a bit higher up the chain!

Here's an example of the USPS email that lets me know what mail is expected.  Note that the non-specific image was pointing to a magazine delivery.
USPS Informed Delivery Email

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I'll let you look up "FUBAR" yourself if you don't know it and are curious.  But please do not lose sleep over this.

EQUIFAX has reported a massive leak and now the tool that they provide to allow you to check to see if your information has been compromised may have been hacked, as well.

The article from c|net (here) essentially states that EQUIFAX's solution, to use the ID protection tool (free for a year if you were affected) may have been hacked, as well, so Caveat Emptor or, in English, Buyer Beware.

What to do? Again, don't lose sleep. Don't hit your cat. Or your kids, or anyone else.  You can yell at the dog or anything else that wakes you unexpectedly in the middle of the night. 

Whatever you have been doing, do that. If you check your credit reports (not scores) from EQUIFAX, TransUnion, and Experian on a yearly basis, keep doing so.  If you don't, then consider starting now thru the US FTC website's link.  Or not.

I actually do not recommend signing up for the free credit protection for a year promotion.  From what I have seen, you need to provide this 3rd party your name and account numbers on all of your financial accounts. That just doesn't sound like a good idea (i.e., common sense) to me.

BUT... if you are concerned about any of your accounts, change your passwords.  Make them strong passwords (Google offers some advice on this). Consider using 2-factor authentication if it is available.  Make your backup & recovery options more secure, too.  Please note that the EQUIFAX breach did not release password information.

And please, no tin hats.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Is there an easy way to alphabetize the desktop icons in Windows?

Yes and no.


  1. The icons can be moved freely and arranged in any order you like
  2. The icons can be sorted alphabetically. Point the cursor to an empty spot on the Desktop and right-click, then left-click on Sort by [Name, Date, Size, or Item Type].


  • There is no way to set or fix the order of the icons.  Now, they will not change order if you don't move them.  
  • However, going into Safe Mode or reducing the screen resolution setting may cause the icons to be reordered so none of them are missing from view.


  • Auto Arrange will "permanently" sort them by your chosen Sort by choice
  • The icon size can be changed as well.

I wish I had a fix for this one.  Like many, I'll group some icons together.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Windows 10 - Mikey Likes it!

For the most part, I am happy with Windows 10.  The Upgrade was mostly simple which I manually applied to my older Windows 7 laptop.  I had reserved Windows 10 on it but was too impatient to wait for a green light from Microsoft.

I won't dwell much on any new features, except that the new browser allows you to make "hand-written" notes & highlights on pages, as well as typed annotations.  And the Reading Mode provides a less distracting view of a web page.  Note that Firefox now offers a similar Reading View option.

Things I Did Not or Do Not Like
1.  So I did have a technical hurdle to jump in order to have the Upgrade install on my laptop.  While the Get Windows 10 app said that my laptop was ready, the Upgrade did not like the size or allocation of a hidden system partition on the hard drive.  Actually, I have an SSD drive as I'd replaced my hard drive for improved performance and a bit better battery life.

The failed attempts were painful because the Upgrade would download the entire package and only then tell me that something was wrong.  If you have a metered connection, those 3 GB downloads can add up quickly!

All told, I tried about 8-10 times before the Upgrade would start the actual installation.

2.  The Upgrade disabled my Norton anti-malware program and Windows 10 was running the included Defender app instead.

3.  My default web browser was no longer Chrome.

4.  The legacy Windows Photo Viewer - only in Slideshow mode - would adjust a photo so any image file would be as large as possible and not have anything cropped.  In Windows 10, parts are cropped whether it would fit on my display or need to be resized.

5.  Oh, there are those privacy concerns. Many of the applications want to talk to each other and share your data (more on this in the next item).  For example, the Calendar wants to look at your list of Contacts.  There are convenience factors worth considering.

However, I have an Android phone and am happy to let Google link up my information.  I don't want to reinvent that wheel, so I've disabled most of the Microsoft requests to share.

The worst part is that all the sharing is, by default, turned on.  Avoiding Express Mode is critical if you don't want all options set to Share.  Of course, all settings can be changed as long as you can locate where those settings reside.

In order to share data among the apps, the Windows 10 apps need to be enabled or installed with the same user ID (an email address).  Which brings me to the next point.

6.  The Microsoft Account.  Many people do not want to log in every time they turn on their PC and often have only one User account.  By default, Windows 10 Setup asks you to create a new Microsoft Account or sign in with an existing one.

Well, once that is done, that Microsoft Account becomes a Windows 10 User Account.  Which means using that Account's password to sign in when the computer reboots and, if required, when the computer wakes from sleep.

Avoiding the Microsoft Account is possible but it is not easy to spot where to click.

And some of my online accounts use user IDs that I just do not want to tie together.  I have no practical reason for my Pandora account to have the same user ID as my Netflix or Facebook accounts.  Does anyone still share what they're listening to on Spotify with their Facebook friends?

But Wait, There's More!
Other problems have been noted in this article from betanews, from Wayne Williams.

In summary, I do like Windows 10.  However, there will be a period of adjustment for some, especially if they don't know how to set up Windows 10 to look more like Windows 7.