Windows Help desk?

When the Waste Material hits the Rotary Ventilator (Something horrible happens to your computer), panic and the urge to do anything to get it fixed is a likely first reaction. Some folks will commence a Google search for a support number or website. The “Windows Help Desk” you arrive at may actually be nothing more than a den of thieves! (By the way, Microsoft’s site is called the Answer Desk, not the Windows Help desk.)

This can be very dangerous, both to your computer, your identity, and your wallet. There are plenty of “support” sites out there that purport to be “Official,” when in reality they are anything but. The best of these may be able to perform a fix, but at an outrageous cost when you might have been able to do it for free. The worst, on the other hand, may take your money, your private data, and your identity, and still leave you with a broken computer – maybe even turning it into a “Zombie,” sending spam and doing work for the bad guys.

I’ve told you before about pop-ups from poisoned websites that will tell you your computer is infected, blah, blah, blah, and to not take any of them seriously. Well, the same goes for support services advertising themselves on the internet. Bad guys know how to manipulate search results so that their sites float to the top. It’s very important to know that you’re using the real site when you look for support. For instance, if you have a Dell, go straight to Dell.com, HP.com for HP machines, and so on for other manufacturers. All the top manufacturers have a Support section on their websites. Microsoft.com is your go-to site for problems with Windows.

When things go awry, start with the fix-it-yourself and automated solutions offered through official support venues such as https://support.microsoft.com, your PC maker’s support site, and from trusted third-party sources.

The Web of Trust browser add-on I’ve talked about before is also a great help for ferreting out some of the scammers.

If you must venture further afield for online help, take the time to run a whois query on unfamiliar support sites. That’s especially the case for sites that want credit-card or other personal information, or that request remote access to your PC. Also run a general Web search to see what others have to say about the resource or company.

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