Ask Mr. Modem! 8-11-06 - East Valley Tribune: Business

Ask Mr. Modem! 8-11-06

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Posted: Friday, August 11, 2006 6:23 pm | Updated: 4:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. Can you explain phishing? I think it’s something I need to avoid, but I’m not sure what it is. Your weekly newsletter is the best money I ever spent in conjunction with my computer. Thanks for being there, Mr. M.

A. Pronounced “fishing,” this term describes the act of sending email that appears to be from a legitimate business, but is actually an attempt to trick the recipient into revealing personal information that will be used for identity theft purposes. Phishing, also referred to as “brand spoofing” is a variation of the word “fishing” (who would have guessed?), the idea being that bait is dangled with the hope that a "live one" will be tempted into biting.

A classic example of phishing involves an identity thief creating a Web site that appears to be a legitimate banking or other well-known institution’s Web site. The thief sends out millions of emails that appear to be from the bank and explains that they’re in the process of auditing accounts. Recipients are asked to click a link provided in the email and provide their account number, PIN, Social Security number or other information so the bank or other institution can update its records. The email and the Web site involved look identical to the real banking or other site. If the information is provided, the thieves attempt to access or otherwise misuse the victim's account.

Phishing scams are easy to avoid if you just keep in mind that no legitimate bank or other organization will ever contact you and ask you to confirm your account number, PIN, or other personal information. If you receive such a request, do not respond, and do not click any links in the email you receive.

Q. My wife and I share a computer with Windows XP. Because we share the computer, it makes no sense to have two separate accounts to log in each time one of us wants to use the computer. All we want to do is start up the computer, with no logging on. Can you help us simplify things by having one account?

A. Absolutely. This is an excellent example of too much technology creating more of a headache than anything. Just because XP permits you to create multiple user accounts doesn’t mean you need to create them. In many families, people are perfectly happy to share one computer with the same settings and avoid the logging-in process.

Since you currently have two accounts, the first thing to decide is which account do you want to use and which account do you want to jettison? Once you decide that, go to your Control Panel and click User Accounts. Click to select the account that you would like to get rid of, then click Delete the Account. Hint: Don’t delete your Administrator user account.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

MyWay Start Page

At first glimpse, this browser start page appears to offer the usual assortment of news, weather, stock quotes, etc. What makes MyWay way unique is its promise of "No banners, no pop-ups, no kidding." In this day and age it is particularly refreshing to find a service that contains no advertising, but that's exactly what MyWay delivers -- at least for as long as it lasts. Hint: To change your browser’s start page permanently, first navigate to the page you would like to use as your start page. With the page displayed, click Tools > Options or Internet Options > General tab, if you’re using Internet Explorer or the Mozilla Firefox browser. Click the “Use Current Page” button under the Home Page section, followed by OK.

Senior Health

An informative site that provides useful information for older adults. If you are visually impaired, try the site’s optional "read aloud" capabilities. Developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine.

For personal answers to your questions by email, plus easy-to-understand computer tips, subscribe to Mr. Modem’s Weekly newsletter. Don’t miss Mr. M.’s best-selling CD-ROM featuring more than 1400 of the best Web sites. For more information, to view an excerpt from the CD, or to order, visit

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