Angie’s List, Are they really working for you?

Angie's List is real not looking out for consumers; you have to follow the money… I purchased a membership into Angie’s List several years ago for ½ price. I wanted to see how they worked. I wrote my own company, Computer First, a wonderful review through my personal membership. My company began getting calls and Emails from Angie’s List to join their group of premier contractors for $200 per year. They are getting money from both customers and contractors! Holy Cow, what a scam; that is better than the BBB which only collects money from businesses! Additionally, my membership was $20 per year and business membership was $200 per year. Who does Angie’s List really protect? I would protect the $200 not the $20. LOL

Imposter Scams

Some 348,000 people reported impostors, 19 percent suffered a financial loss.

Impostor scams were again the top fraud in 2017, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which has detailed the 2.7 million complaints the agency received from consumers last year.

Although the total number of complaints decreased from nearly 3 million in 2016, consumers reported losing $905 million, an increase of $63 million from 2016.

In terms of age, younger people were fleeced more often but, when successfully scammed, older people lost more money.

Among those ages 20 to 29, 40 percent reported losing money to fraud; the rate for those 70 and above was 18 percent. But when the thieves were successful, the typical amount of loss depended greatly on one’s age. The older you were, the more you lost.

For those 20-29, the median loss was $400. The comparable figures were $621 for those 70 to 79 and $1,092 for those 80 and above.

Some 348,000 people reported about impostors, with 19 percent saying they suffered a financial loss. After impostors, the top categories in order of number of reports were phone and mobile services (150,000); prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries (143,000); shop-at-home and catalog sales (126,000); internet services (45,000); foreign money offers and counterfeit checks (32,000); travel, vacation and time-shares (22,000); business and job opportunities (19,000); advance payments for credit (18,000); and health care (10,000).

The top states per capita for fraud reports were Florida, Georgia and Nevada.

You can find out the FTC’s fraud report in detail at its website.

Can you spot an impostor?

85% of adults are confident they can, according to a recent AARP survey. But the majority of the survey participants then flunked an “Impostor IQ” quiz that measures the ability to spot a liar.

Welcome to what experts call the illusion of invulnerability — the belief that frauds happen to others but not you. Overconfidence in your ability to spot bad guys is a dangerous thing. Impostor fraud is among the fastest-growing scam types precisely because so many of us think we are immune to it.

To help, here is a small sampling of actual impostor scams now playing out across America. The take- away? Never accept a pitch or give any information to a stranger — on the phone, in person or over the internet — without first independently verifying that it’s legitimate.

The jury duty manager: “Hi, I’m calling from the courthouse, and you missed jury duty. Pay $400 or go to prison.” puppy breeder: “As a dog lover, you should know we just got a beautiful litter of purebred golden retriever puppies. Just $200 each!” utility company: “We will be shutting off your electricity in 24 hours if you don’t pay the past-due amount on your bill immediately.”

 Learn more about: Utility imposter scams government clerk: “You have unclaimed property with our state. Simply pay this fee, and we will release it to you.” ticket seller: “As an affiliate of a major ticket vendor, we can get you seats for your dream concert for a discount, if you act quickly.” bank verifier: “There’s a data problem with your checking account. Please verify this information so we can confirm things and fix the error.” big-winner announcer: “I’m from the Canadian lottery, and you have won $1 million! Pay the import tax and fee, and we’ll send you your winnings.”

 Learn more about: Sweepstakes imposter scams doctor representative: “Research shows conclusively that these new capsules will stop your disease in its tracks.”

The police or fire department: “We’re raising money for officers (or firefighters) injured in the line of duty. How much will you be donating today?”

 Learn more about: Police imposter scams Internal Revenue Service: “You owe taxes and are at grave risk of large fines or jail time if you do not settle this situation immediately.” long-distance lover: “In these weeks of chatting, I’ve fallen so in love with you. Send money for a plane ticket, and oh, the magic that will happen!”

 Learn more about: Online dating scams military rep: “I’m from the Veterans Administration, and you are entitled, as an ex-soldier, to benefits from this program. I just need to know …”

Yelp is a Scam

Yelp business reviews are massaged by their so called "fraud detection algorithm". A business is black-mailed into paying Yelp for good reviews. The "algorithm" simply does not let good reviews get posted until you pay Yelp for them. Many companies have taken Yelp to court, but Yelp hides behind their secret algorithms' patent.

Yelp, like the Better Business Bureau, gets their money from donating business. Who are they really working for? Just follow the money.

Popular Phone & Email Scams

Information you need to protect yourself from being a victim of the latest scam tactics:   

  • Advance fee scams – Don't fall for claims that you have won a lottery, prize, or can invest in a great opportunity, if you have to pay a small fee in advance.
  • Chain letters – These letters promise to help you get rich quickly if you participate and forward the letter on to your friends and family.
  • Charity scams – Scammers take advantage on your willingness to help people in need and charitable causes. They may collect your donation and keep it for themselves instead of using it to help those in need. Know your charities and only give locally. Get to know a charity's politics before contributing. Example: The Clinton Foundation collected millions for the earth quake victoms in Haiti but built a textile plant across the island to wealthy contributors.
  • Coupon scams – Coupons can be a helpful way to save money on your purchases. But beware of illegitimate offers. Often you must download something that will install on your computer before receiving the benefit. The download installs adware and spyware on your computer.
  • Dating scams – Scammers may create fake profiles on online dating sites and express interest in you, just so he or she can convince you to send them money.
  • Debt relief scams – Some scammers hope that you are as eager to get rid of your debt as they are to scam you out of your money. Know the warning signs so you won't be their next victim.
  • Free security scans – Don't be tricked by messages on your computer screen that claim that your machine is already infected with a virus. The realistic, but phony, security alerts exploit your fear of online viruses and security threats. Do not click on the suspicious dialog box; turn-off computer immediately.
  • Government grant scams – Despite ads that say you qualify for a government grant, these are often scams. Be wary of responding to offers, email, or claims that use government agency names.
  • Health product scams – Be wary of trusting all claims. Take time to get the facts about a product first.
  • International financial scams – A variety of scams offer entries into foreign lotteries or international investment opportunities.
  • IRS-related scams – Be careful with email that is supposedly from the IRS. Scammers try to gain access to your financial information in order to steal your identity and assets. Never give your Social Security number to anyone on the phone. The IRS already knows your SS and should not need you to repete it.
  • Job scams – Never pay money or supply your credit card number to a company to apply for a job. Some scammers make big promises with work at home opportunities, but these may require you to engage in illegal activities. With so many out of work these days, this is a popular why to prey on the unemployed.
  • Jury duty scams – Calls pretending to be a court official who then threatens a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you failed to show up for jury duty. Jury duty requests always come by mail with a local phone number to call.
  • Phantom debt scams – Beware of letters and calls, supposedly from "debt collectors" or "court officials". These scammers make threatening claims requiring you to pay money that you don't owe.  
  • Pyramid schemes – These investments offer big profits, but really aren't based on revenue from selling products. Instead, they depend on the recruitment of more investors.
  • Scams that use the names of the FBI or CIA – Avoid falling victim to email schemes involving unsolicited email supposedly sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and/or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The email appears to be sent from email addresses such as,,, and
  • Service members or veteran scams – Scammers target bogus offers of government resources or financial services to trick active duty military personnel and veterans out of their money.
  • Smishing, vishing, and phishing – All three of these scams rely on you replying to an email, phone call or text with personal information, such as your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Subpoena scams – Scammers send bogus email, supposedly from a U.S. District Court, stating that you have to come to court. These messages are fake and may contain links that are harmful to your computer.
  • Text message spam – Not only can text message spam be annoying and cost you money on your mobile phone bill, but the messages are often for scams.

For more info use these links to GOV sites:  &


THOR Locky Ransomware

.Thor Virus

THOR is the newest manifestation of the much feared Locky Ransomware. With the latest version of these malicious programs being released under the name of .Thor Virus, the Ransomware family has gotten even bigger and the danger it represents to all internet users is growing at an ever increasing rate. Once Thor gets inside your machine, it locks all your files via the method of encryption and requires you to pay ransom if you want to make the data accessible once more. No one is safe from Ransomware and due to its high effectiveness and extremely low risk for the cyber-criminals that are using it, it is sure to remain a major issue for quite some time.

Understanding Ransomware

Unlike other malicious programs, typical Ransomware would not harm neither your system, nor your files. The means it uses to lock your files is the method of encryption, which is, in fact, not an actual malicious process. Many programs that are legit use encryption on their files. Therefore, it is often impossible for anti-virus programs to tell the difference between a Ransomware encryption and one coming from a non-malicious piece of software. This devious strategy is what enables viruses like .Thor to remain under the radar of the user, right up until all the important data has been locked by the Ransomware code and the user is left with very few possible courses of action.

During the encryption process

As we said, anti-virus software might often prove to be ineffective against spotting a Ransomware threat. Therefore, you need to learn how you can manually detect the encryption process and potentially intercept it. First of all, understand that the process of encryption can take quite some time, because the virus first needs to make a copy of all targeted files. It is actually the copies that have been locked by the virus code. Once this is done, the original files get deleted and you are left with a pile of inaccessible data. If .Thor is still not done with locking your documents, you can notice its presence by paying close attention to the behavior of your machine and the system resources that are being used. If you see that unusually high amounts of RAM, CPU and hard-drive space are being used along with a general PC slowdown, it might be worth shutting your PC down and bringing it to an IT professional. Note that if there is in fact a Ransomware infection, all devices connected to your machine might get attacked by the virus as well, so make sure there is nothing connected to your PC if you suspect that there’s something malicious going on.

After the encryption

Most users do not notice anything before it’s already too late. In fact, after .Thor is done locking your data, it will probably display a message on your screen demanding a ransom payment if you want to get the decryption key and be able to access your files once again. If that is your current case, we need to tell you that paying the ransom is usually a very bad idea. Not only is there no way to know if you’ll actually be sent the key, but you would also be encouraging the hacker to keep on terrorizing more users. Therefore, what we would advise you to do is to give our Ransomware removal guide a try. While due to the specific nature of Ransomware viruses we cannot guarantee that it will fix everything, it is still a much better alternative to the ransom payment.

Battling Ransomware

As stated above, the Ransomware virus family is bound to get bigger and scarier. Thus, we must make sure that our readers are well informed on how to protect their computers from any future infections:

  • Equip your PC with the latest high-quality anti-virus software and detection tools. Keep in mind that oftentimes Ransomware viruses can get inside your system with the help of some other malicious program such as a Trojan Horse.
  • Make sure to back-up your data. This is a very effective way to neutralize any potential Ransomware infections.
  • Avoid illegal or shady-looking sites. Download stuff only from reliable sources. Do not open any spam letters or suspicious hyperlinks – those are some of the most frequently employed methods for distributing harmful software.

Anti Adware miss most Malware

Anti Adware Solutions miss most disruptive Malware

By Brian Livingston

Now that 80% of home PCs in the U.S. are infected with Adware and Spy-ware, according to one study; it turns out that nearly every anti-Adware application on the market catches less than half of the bad stuff.

ware tests conducted recently by Eric Howes, an instructor at the AdThat's the conclusion of a remarkably comprehensive series of anti University of Illinois.

Howes, a well-known researcher among PC security professionals, collected 20 different anti Adware applications. He then infected a fresh install of Windows 2000 SP4 and Office 2000 SP3 with several dozen Adware programs in separate stages. Finally, he counted how many active Ad-ware components were removed by each anti Adware product.

(Note: I use the single term "Adware" in this article to refer to both "Adware" and "Spyware." Since it's not necessary for a Spyware program to "call home" to be disruptive, the distinction between Adware and Spyware is meaningless. All such programs display ads or generate revenue for the Adware maker in some other way. )

Unbelievably, however, none of these commentators bothered to print a simple chart showing which anti Adware application did the best job at removing the unwanted components. Even Howes himself hasn't posted such a summary. In a telephone interview, Howes exhibited both modesty and perfectionism, implying that his work wasn't yet done to his satisfaction — despite the fact that his tests are some of the most extensive I've ever seen.

The test results sprawl over six long Web pages, with no overall totals or summary of the figures. It's a daunting body of data, but its bottom line is explosive. Ad-ware seems to be evolving much faster than anti Adware, and the battle is so far being won by the Adware side.

For this issue of the Windows Secrets Newsletter, therefore, I've complied Howes's figures into a straightforward chart, shown below. I removed five products that didn't complete all of Howes's tests for a variety of reasons. What's left is a revealing rating, from the top to the bottom of the anti-Ad-ware heap.

Each anti-Adware application, according to Howe, removed a certain percentage of "critical" Adware components. These are executable .exe and .com files, dynamic link library (.dll) files, and Windows Registry entries (autorun commands and the like).

Almost all the anti-Ad-ware programs that were tested removed fewer than half of the hundreds of Adware components Howes cataloged.

How to defend Yourself against Adware
First, let me make my opinion clear: The installation of Adware should be illegal and harshly punished. Ad-ware has exploded because it offers big economic incentives for its sponsors. They'll never adequately inform PC users about their software before it's installed. This troubling aspect of Adware will never be wished away.

Only software that a PC user specifically consents to should legally be able to install — and "end-user license agreements" that stretch off the screen should never be counted as consent. (This isn't a knock on "ad-supported software," such as the Opera browser. Such legitimate software is clearly integrated with its advertising and makes it easy to shut off the ads by registering.)

In reality, today's tech-illiterate legislatures will never ban Adware — if they could even think of an effective legal approach to do so. We need to engage the battle on a technical level instead.

“Antivirus Pro” is fake virus protection

How Did “Antivirus Pro 201x” Infect My PC?

There's actually a number of ways this annoying/dangerous little bugger got on to your PC, but the most common, is from downloading & sharing music from torrent related websites, or visiting other sites that ask you to install javascripts to watch certain videos etc. Plainly put, Spyware creators are smart and its a hard job to defend yourself at all times, when you don't even know where to start.

Antivirus Pro is a fake antivirus program (rogue antispyware software). Antivirus Pro 201x uses system warnings and alerts, pop-ups, false scan results in order to trick you into buying the software. The scareware does not offer any protection to computer!

Once Antivirus Pro 201x installed, it will automatically start every time Windows is started. Once running, Antivirus Pro 201x will scan your computer and display false scan results that state the PC is infected with a lot of Trojans and viruses. All these scan results are fake! These infections do not exist on your computer, so you can safely ignore them.


When Antivirus Pro 201x is running your PC will show fake security alerts from Windows taskbar and nag screens. Some of the alerts:

Trojan detected!
A piece of malicious code was found in your system which can replicate itself if no action taken. Click here to have your system cleaned by Antivirus Pro 201x.

Privacy alert!
Your system was found to be infected with intercepting programs. These can log your activity and damage your privacy. Click here for Antivirus Pro 201x spyware removal. Also the program will display fake Windows
Security Center that will recommend you use Antivirus Pro 201x.

What are Superfish?

Superfish and its certificate may be on PC

What are Superfish and why are they so dangerous?

Superfish is a piece of software that PC Retailers admitted to pre-installing on many of its laptops and PCs to "enhance the shopping experience" of its users. However, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team calls Superfish a "man-in-the-middle attack" because of how it "intercepts users' web traffic to provide targeted advertisements."

Superfish snoops in on your web browsing and secretly slips ads into webpages. But the really dangerous part is that it's pre-installed with root certificate authority, which allows it to impersonate any server's security certificate.

If this certificate is compromised by hackers, you could be tricked into logging in to a fake website and giving hackers your password. Because of Superfish, any of your accounts, including encrypted bank accounts, could be easily compromised.

Will restoring from a backup help?

Superfish is pre-installed by PC Retailer. Therefore, restoring your computer to factory condition from either a backup partition or a backup DVD will not solve the problem if Superfish is also part of your backup. Superfish would only be reinstalled, too. So if you ever use a backup to restore your system, you may need to again remove Superfish and its root security certificate from your system.

All Acer laptops and PCs have malware pre-loaded which must be removed before windows updates can install. According to Lenovo, Superfish may have been pre-installed on the following models:

E Series:         E10-30

G Series:         G410, G510, G710, G40-70, G50-70, G40-30, G50-30, G40-45, G50-45, G40-80

S Series:         S310, S410, S40-70, S415, S415Touch, S435, S20-30, S20-30Touch

U Series:         U330P, U430P, U330Touch, U430Touch, U530Touch

Y Series:         Y430P, Y40-70, Y50-70, Y40-80, Y70-70

Z Series:          Z40-75, Z50-75, Z40-70, Z50-70, Z70-80

Edge Series: Edge 15

Flex Series:     Flex2 14D, Flex2 15D, Flex2 14, Flex2 15, Flex2 Pro, Flex 10


MIIX Series: MIIX2-8, MIIX2-10, MIIX2-11, MIIX 3 1030

YOGA Series: YOGA2Pro-13, YOGA2-13, YOGA2-11, YOGA3 Pro

Remote control of your computer

Phone Scam via remote login to your PC

If anyone calls you on the phone and claims there from Microsoft or McAfee or Nortons (etc)… Well their not! Scammers and telemarketers use the legitimate company names to gain your trust. Believe me when I say no company has the money to employ hundreds (100s) of operators to help random customers over the phone. If anyone calls YOU on the phone, it is for their benefit not yours. If any phone call gets to a point there the CALLER wants to login to YOUR computer, DON'T DO IT!


Example: Lets say you forgot your Email password for YAHOO, AOL, Gmail, MSN, HOTMAIL, or any other FREE Email account. You find a phone number on the internet that claims to be customer support for one of these free subscribers, and you call it. The person that answers the phone may have a foreign acsent (first sign of a scam) but aggrees to help you if they can login to your computer.

  1. NO password reset requires remote access to your computer! Legitimate companies like ATT, TWC, Comcast, Frontier, Verizon, Bell South will never need access to your PC. If they do; you have called a wrong number and are being spoofed.
  2. Free Email accounts do not come with Customer Support! Think for a second; who is paying these people if the service is free.
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