Patrick Marshall: tech-support scams, purging Outlook mail
Tips to avoid tech-support scams, modify cookie settings in Firefox and purge mail in Outlook.
Special to The Seattle Times
Q: I was reading your column and alarm bells began going off. My friend, 75 years old, had an issue with his Hotmail account. He called a number from the Internet for Hotmail support and was connected (supposedly) with a tech-support person. This person took remote control of his machine. He said it was infected and then sold him and installed McAfee virus protection and charged him $290 for two years. My friend told me about this and it sounded fishy to me.
Any suggestions for what to do?
— Catherine T. Kernan
A: That's definitely a very high price.
Again, if you're having trouble with a specific application I'd go to the source for help. If the problem is with Hotmail, get help from Microsoft. If that isn't feasible, I'd go to a local computer shop or hire a local computer consultant. I definitely would advise against calling numbers found on the Internet.
At this point, the first thing to do is to scan the computer for malware that may have been deposited. Try Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware. It's free and it can be found at www.malwarebytes.org.
I'd also suggest your friend ask for a refund. If one isn't given, report the company to the Better Business Bureau.
Q: I run Windows XP on my Dell desktop. I use Firefox as my Internet browser. I have two problems (maybe only one): First, my online banking sites do not recognize my computer. Each time I visit my online banking, I have to go through a series of questions. At the end of the questions, I am asked if this is a public computer or a private computer. I always answer private, but to no avail.
Second, when I open my browser to home page, msn.com, the location indicated on the page is different from the city I live in. I change it to Bellevue and save it. However, once I close the browser and reopen it, it doesn't save my changes. This also happens with the toolbars. Nothing seems to be saved.
I have talked to IT people at my banks and at Microsoft. They think they fixed it, but as soon as I close my browser or shut down my computer, none of the changes have been saved. Can you help?
— Esther Stein
A: That you have both issues leads me to think that you may have your browser configured to prevent websites from leaving cookies on your computer.
To check, in Firefox go to the Options menu and click on Options. In the dialog box that appears, click on the Privacy icon. Under History, make sure the program isn't set to "Never remember history."
And no, it's not an all-or-nothing thing. If you choose "Use custom settings for history," you can control how your computer will interact with specific websites.
Q: I am running Windows Vista (up to date with all Microsoft recommended changes) and Outlook from Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007. I have Office linked through IMAP to my Gmail account.
Whenever I delete an email from Outlook, it remains in Gmail and I have to go directly into Gmail to get rid of it.
This makes for nearly twice as much work in managing email and lengthy purging sessions in Gmail. Is there a way to make a deletion in Outlook force a deletion in Gmail as well?
— John Mowery, Redmond
A: We should be able to fix that. I think what's happening is that you're currently set up for items you delete in Outlook to be moved into the Trash folder in Gmail, but they're not actually purged in Gmail. You need to set things up so that they'll purge.
In Outlook, go to your Account Settings entry for your Gmail account and open it. In the dialog box that appears, click on the More Settings button and then the Deleted Items tab. Click on the box next to "Purge items when switching folders while online." That should fix things.
Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/qa.