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.
1. Normally when an error occurs on your computer looking in Event Viewer should be your starting point for finding a solution. Most system related errors are logged and getting an exact copy of the relevant report is important. Unfortunately understanding
the reports is not easy and most computer users need help with their interpretation. I have more to say later on interpretation.
2. Event Viewer comprises three main Windows logs. These are Application, Security and System. For troubleshooting purposes System is by far the most important.
3. To access the System log select Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer, from the list in the left side of the window select Windows Logs and System. Place the cursor on System, right click and select Filter Current Log. Check the box
before Error and click on OK and you see only Error reports. Click on the Date and Time Column Header to sort. You may need to click a second time to see the latest Report at the top.
4. A tip for posting copies of Error Reports! Run Event Viewer and double click on the error you want to copy. Click on the Copy button to place a copy on your Clipboard and close Event Viewer. Now start your message and paste into the body of the message.
Make sure this is the first paste after exiting from Event Viewer.
5. There are three types of Report, being Information, Warning and Error reports. In most situations it is Error Reports that offer the best information but occasionally Warning Reports provide useful clues.
6. All reports have date and time stamps and when troubleshooting it is important to concentrate on more recent reports. Study reports since the point when the computer was last booted and then check whether a similar report appeared in the previous session.
If errors do not repeat investigation as to why they occurred is wasted effort.
7. Within individual reports the more important information is Event ID and Source as these help when looking for help on the internet. The description is equally important and copying the exact text for use as the search criteria greatly helps getting better
results when using Google. Do not paraphrase descriptions when asking others for help.
Type Device Manager in the Search box above the Start button and press ENTER. Are there any yellow question marks in Device Manager? If yes what is the Device Error code.
To see Hidden Devices (Non Plug and Play Drivers) you need to select View, Show Hidden Devices. It is necessary to do this every time you open Device Manager if you need to see them.
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.