Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams
October 14, 2019
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 official Microsoft global customer service number.
Since the MS Answers forums prompts for no system information when a new question is asked, we don't even know what Service Pack you have. If you have SP3, you already have the update. Two weeks in and we don't know what your Service Pack is, what your antivirus/antimalware
environment is... We know you have XP Pro 32 bit though.
What you are likely to have is a malfunctioning Explorer Shell extension, and you can usually figure it out as follows:
When Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) is misbehaving (especially when right clicking), start to suspect third party Explorer extension add-ons.
Those would be Explorer extensions that do not belong to Microsoft. That means extensions that you added. Explorer extensions are usually okay and installing some applications will install Explorer extensions for you, give you a choice and sometimes they
can be added without your knowledge when you install new software.
Explorer extensions are sometimes added as a new right click option you see on folders and files (like scan this file, open this file, play this song).
If there is a particular thing you do when Exploring that you know will cause the problem, that will help zero in on the problem and help you know for sure when you have found and fixed it. If you can make it happen anytime you want, make an adjustment and
then there is no message the next time you do whatever it is you do, you have found and fixed it.
If you can really make it happen almost every time you right click and choose something like Delete or Copy, you are well on your way to figuring it out.
First you need a way to see what Explorer add-ons you have installed now and a way to disable them (not uninstall them) so you can figure out which one is causing the problem. You may have lots of non Microsoft extensions installed you don't even know about.
Download ShellExView from here to see which Explorer extensions you have loaded:
ShellExView doesn't install anything on your computer, it just runs and displays.
After you launch ShellExView, under Options, choose to "Mark Non-Microsoft Extensions" and the non Microsoft extensions will be in light pink, but on some systems that is a hard color to see, so click View, Choose Columns and move the Microsoft column closer
to the top so you can see it on your screen without having to scroll left and right.
Next, click the column header for Microsoft to sort the display (by clicking the Microsoft column) so all the non Microsoft extensions are at the top and easy to see.
The non Microsoft extensions would be things you have added (non Microsoft) and are what you need to be suspecting.
You can also Google the name of a suspicious add-on and see if there are any hits regarding errors with the extension and what other people have done about it... maybe just get an update for the program that added the suspicious extension.
You might Google something like:
<my-suspicious-add-on> XP explorer crashing
(you have to fill in the name of your suspicious add on)
See what kind of search results hits you get and look for solutions or situations that sound like yours.
I am not a trial and error advocate, but I can't think of another way to do this...
Right click and disable the non Microsoft extensions one at a time keeping a list so you can enable them again later if desired. The result of the change is immediate and no reboot is required. Test your failure condition.
If you recognize any extensions that may have been added or downloaded recently, start with those first.
Disabling an extension does not uninstall the extension - it is just disabled.
Disable them one at a time until your right click does not generate an error, then reboot and test again. That last extension you disabled would be the suspicious one.
You can also just disable all the non Microsoft extensions, reboot and enable them one at a time until you find the one that generates the condition.
The hope is that you will find the one extension that causes the error and then you can figure out what to do about it - either uninstall it or see if you can get an update from the maker of the extension from their web page.
I don't have your issue but I can when you disable/enable the extensions, the extension is immediately disabled, so disabling an extension does not seem to require a reboot but if you find the problem, I would reboot and retest anyway to really be sure the
problem is gone.
If you post up a list of your non Microsoft extensions, maybe someone will recognize it as a potential problem.
If you find the offending extension that is the problem, please let us know what it is so I can add it to my list.
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