Today the repair guy came back to install a 4th hose in our dishwasher and a sump, whatever that is, that Lester (the rat) had also chewed. I’ve been washing dishes by hand for a month and using only one side of the sink, because the other one had been draining onto the floor. The critter guy went into a different cabinet and installed a steel plate and mesh and foam and we are hoping that was the last entry point for the rat. I am sorry Lester may dehydrate and die, but the costs of repair were mounting.
Four days ago, Ed handed me the phone for an on-line support outfit I had used that had been suggested to me by Hewlett-Packard. Ed had downloaded Windows 10, and the effort had frozen our computer. I called Hewlett-Packard and we didn’t have a warranty anymore and they referred us to Buzztech. Buzztech spent three days foomfing and fawmfing and I told Ed I was stopping with them and getting Andy our local tech because something about their effort didn’t smell right. Also, for three days, I couldn’t go out, because I was either on the phone with them, or waiting for their call. Ed was irritated because we had already paid them $150. Our tech said we should buy a new computer. We did that, but also had our old computer updated by Staples to Windows 10 and I inherited it. I wrote about this.
Buzztech kept calling wanting an evaluation of their service. I put them off. Ed picked up on the latest call and handed me the phone. The computer tech said I had been hacked, my data was compromised, a thousand errors, don’t use your on-line banking, don’t this, don’t that. He scared me. He wanted us to use a powerful protection item called the Microsoft Shield and said Amazon and Wal-mart were selling it for thousands, but he could let us have it for $500. He showed us Amazon’s website (a bogus page) that showed the item for up to $3,000. He showed us internal pages of compromised computer files on our computer. All very scary, all very important looking. These were all bogus pages they had set up to plug in and let you see.
We didn’t flinch at $500 so he asked if we had “other devices" – we said just a laptop, well, $100 more to include the lap top. We didn’t flinch. He then said for a definitive, lifetime safe program and we would never, ever have to worry again, $1800. We had made a deal with another outfit, which, it appears, is also a scam outfit (they are everywhere), and he said “I’ll get your money back from them, don’t worry.”
Ed said, “I can’t agree to your deal. I don’t know you. Here’s what: You say you’ll get our money back from Re-Image – do that and when I see that it’s done, we’ll talk.” Later that night, I tried to get into my computer and got a sign-in box that was not the regular one, asking for a password. I typed the one I use and it proceeded to other pages that all dead-ended. I called our local tech, Andy, who was to come on Tuesday. On Tuesday his scheduler called to say that he had an emergency – a doctor’s internal computers had been hijacked and the outfit was demanding a ransom. So Andy went there instead, and I agree that was a priority. I got a referral number from Andy’s assistant for a tech store in Cape Coral. After a talk with their tech on the phone, I agreed to bring in my computer. Meanwhile, Ed’s seemed to still be working, but a day later when I tried to sign in to his computer, the screen did not move to the next step and remained in connect mode for hours. We crashed it and left it alone.
Buzztech called back, hoping to close the deal. I accused them of locking us out. And they said, no, that was the hackers doing that to you because you wouldn’t let us fix things. Also, this guy said in his Indian accent, that his name was something like Steve Wilson (close enough). I said, no it’s not. Why do you say that, he asked. Because, I said the name doesn’t match your accent. Duh.
I took my computer in. The women, Ce (for Cecilia) who owns the store is a computer genius. When she heard my story she asked if they had asked me to type control R on my keyboard and then had me type in a code, which they had. She said that’s how they got in. She also said, since I had done it, I couldn’t accuse them of anything. She said I had a severe lockdown situation. She worked on it while I sat next to her, and she was able to override the blocks and get in. She said I should leave it overnight so she could clean out some malware and other stuff. She also recommended “Eset” a computer security program that she said far excelled anything else out there, including Norton, which she said was now owned by the Pakistanis and was no longer effective. Another suggestion was to change our IP address. Ed tried to do that with CenturyLink, that supplies our phone, TV and internet service, but their tech messed us up and then we couldn’t get on line at all. Ce also suggested we switch to Comcast. It has its problems (they all do) but its internet is far superior to CenturyLink.
I went back the next day (a half hour drive each way) and got my computer. I also took Ed’s computer in and when she booted it up, it had the same toxic password request that had been on my computer. This one was trickier but she did manage to get in and avoided having to wipe the drive and reload windows and restore the data, a bigger process.
As I said, genius at work here.
We also learned from Ce that Embarqmail, our CenturyLink e mail service, will not let us transfer our email address book and related data. She loaded Windows Live Mail on to my computer. Now, no matter what e mail I have, Embarq or Comcast or Verizon, it will go into Livemail on my computer. It also has excellent spam blocks and other features.
While I was worrying about all this, a neighbor stopped by to tell me my friend John, who I help, was on his way to the hospital since she had seen the ambulance at his house. I ran over there, but they were leaving and wouldn’t let me talk with him and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong because they “weren’t allowed to.” I gave them the finger. I spoke with him on his cell later and said I would take care of Buster for him.
I picked him up from the hospital the next day and got him home, but he is very weak. John has a compromised immune system and is allergic to many things, and the hospital gave him a drug that messed him up. I awoke in the middle of the night worrying about him, so I went over this morning. He was hanging in but too weak to help himself. I filled a couple of glasses with ice water, and heated a can of chicken noodle soup and I will keep checking on him and will walk the dog until John is better.
I wish there was a way to harm the computer predators who have done this to us. Ce said that all she gets lately is people who have been hacked or victimized as we have been. We finally had to have her come to the house to finish solving the internet access problem, which she did earlier today and now I can get on line again.
Anyway, Buzztech and Re-Image are outfits to avoid, but the bottom line is you can’t anymore trust any on-line computer fix outfit. Be absolutely sure if you are working remotely who the tech works for. My solution is not to get on line support. Except for Apple, when I need help with my iPod. They have been reliable.
Get local people who can make a house call, or for a cheaper fix, take your tower to the shop. Never agree to have any on-line support person take over your computer, don’t cooperate and interact with an on-line tech person who asks you to click on things, as I did. Don’t believe horror stories about your computer having been invaded. If this harms on-line support teams who actually work to help their clients, too bad. We need honest techies to start fighting back against these people. They have the skills.
I gave Hewlett-Packard a reaming out because they referred me to Buzztech. I’m not finished with them. Their main office is getting a letter.