Science & Technology



Tech Q&A: Is that e-warning a scam? Here are clues

Steve Alexander, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Science & Technology News

Q: I received what appears to be a scam e-mail from Computer Help Security & Services. It urged me to renew my membership or call their telephone number to cancel (and thus avoid an impending $300 renewal charge to my account). I've never done business with this company, but is it possible they have my credit card number? Should I just delete the e-mail and forget it?

-- Jane Parry, Edina, Minn.

A: It is a scam, so delete the e-mail without responding.

Here are some clues the e-mail is fake:

-- You don't recall doing business with the company.

-- A Google search doesn't find a company with that name.


-- The company has a cheap, internet-only phone number that can't be traced to a business name or a street address. (You can check on phone numbers at This one is a "non-fixed VoIP," or Voice over Internet Protocol, number.)

-- The message uses scare tactics to get you to act. You're being urged to call an unknown company on the pretext of avoiding an unwanted charge to your account. Whoever answers will likely ask you for personal information, such as your bank account or credit card number.

Q: I'm unable to install the latest update for the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1. The install fails, the PC restarts, then Windows 8.1 again tries to install the update. How can I install the update?

--Jane McLaughlin, Charlotte, N.C.


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