Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams
July 29, 2020
Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are an industry-wide issue where scammers trick you into paying for unnecessary
technical support services. You can help protect yourself from scammers by verifying that the contact is a
Microsoft Agent or
Microsoft Employee and that the phone number is an
Microsoft global customer service number.
I have spent HOURS on virtually every help site for an answer to this problem. On various days (no pattern), when I start using computer (which is always on), all the icons from my taskbar have disappeared. I found one solution to the problem which is
to start task manager, end explorer.exe process, then run explorer.exe again. This brings back all the icons. But this is a tedious thing to do. And NO ONE has given any explanation for why this happens and what explorer.exe has to do with it. This happens
on my desktop which I upgraded to Windows 7 from Vista. My laptop, which came with Windows 7 installed, does not have this problem. I have run several virus programs; no viruses found. Is this a Windows 7 problem? a general Microsoft problem? I keep up to
date with updates. So what in the world is the problem? I'd really like an answer from someone who knows what (s)he is talking about.
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System corruption or something loading could be blocking the Icons occasionally.
References to Vista also apply to Windows 7.
What antivirus/antispyware/security products do you have on machine? Include any you have EVER
had on this machine including those you uninstalled (they leave remnants behind which can cause
To see all that is loading bootup - wait a few minutes without doing anything - then Right Click
TaskBar - Task Manager - take a look at Appplications - Processes - Services - this is a quick
reference (if you have a little box on Lower Left - Show for All Users then check that).
WhatsInStartUP - Free - This utility displays the list of all applications that are loaded automatically
when Windows starts up. For each application, the following information is displayed: Startup Type (Registry/Startup Folder), Command -Line String, Product Name, File Version, Company Name,
Location in the Registry or file system, and more. It allows you to easily disable or delete unwanted
programs that runs in your Windows startup. http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/what_run_in_startup.html
Window Watcher - Free - Do you know what's running on your computer? Maybe not. The Window
Watcher tells all, reporting every window created by every running program, whether the window
is visible or not. http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptwinwatch.asp
Consider this an absolute must - manually updating your drivers.
Vista and Windows 7 love updated drivers so here is how to update the major ones.
This is my generic how to for proper driver updates :
This utility makes it easy to see which versions are loaded :
DriverView - Free - utility displays the list of all device drivers currently loaded on your system.
For each driver in the list, additional useful information is displayed: load address of the driver,
description, version, product name, company that created the driver, and more. http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/driverview.html
For Drivers check System Maker as fallbacks and Device Maker's which are the most current.
Control Panel - Device Manager - Display Adapter - write down the make and complete model
of your video adapter - double click - Driver's tab - write down the version info. Now click UPdate
Driver (this may not do anything as MS is far behind certifying drivers) - then Right Click -
Uninstall - REBOOT this will refresh the driver stack.
Repeat that for Network - Network Card (NIC), Wifi, Sound, Mouse and Keyboard if 3rd party
with their own software and drivers and any other major device drivers you have.
Now go to System Maker's site (Dell, HP, Toshiba as examples) (as rollback) and then Device
Maker's site (Realtek, Intel, Nvidia, ATI as examples) and get their latest versions. (Look for
BIOS, Chipset and software updates at System Maker's site while there.)
Download - SAVE - go to where you put them - Right Click - RUN AD ADMIN - REBOOT after
Always check in Device Manager - Drivers tab to be sure the version you are installing actually
shows up. This is because some drivers rollback before the latest is installed (sound drivers
particularly do this) so install a driver - reboot - check to be sure it is installed and repeat as
Repeat at Device Makers - BTW at Device Makers DO NOT RUN THEIR SCANNER - check
manually by model.
If you update drivers manually then it is a good idea to disable Driver Installations in Windows
Updates, this leaves Windows Updates ON however it will not install drivers which will usually be
older and cause issues. If Updates suggests a new driver then HIDE it (Right Click on it) and then
go look for new ones manually if you wish.