You've fallen for a scam! Now what?

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Cybercriminals tricked Fred into giving away sensitive information. Now he wants to know how “to mitigate this situation?”

Don’t feel bad. We all make stupid mistakes. But with these sorts of mistakes, you have to act fast to avoid disaster.

What you need to do depends on how you were tricked. Did you give them your email password? Your bank and/or credit card numbers? Your passwords for Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites? Did they remotely access your PC, or trick you into installing software?

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Troubleshoot a dead Internet connection

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Kathy Hintz wants to know why a friend can’t get an Internet connection.

I hate network problems. They’re the worst. When they happen in my house, I tend to use a vocabulary that would shock Quentin Tarantino.

A wide variety of problems can block Internet (and local network) communications. Your first job is to find the cause. Follow these steps in this order, and you should at least figure out what is the causing the problem.

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Can your ISP read what you send over Facebook?

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Maeve asked “Can your ISP read conversations that you have with people over Facebook?” 

Every Internet communication from your home goes through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It knows your IP address (actually your router’s IP address), it knows your physical address, and it literally does the job of connecting one to the other.

To use a term we’ve all heard a lot recently, they have your metadata.

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Save power: Don’t run your PC 24/7

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Sofian asked if PCs should be turned off at the end of the workday.

There’s a lot of controversy about that, but I lean toward turning off the machine  when it’s not in use. Leaving a PC on all of the time wastes electricity. That’s bad for your pocketbook and bad for the planet. What’s more, I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that turning off PCs wears them down faster than keeping them on.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Upgrade Windows 7 Starter to something better

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Jinadasa Katulanda has a netbook computer running Windows 7 Starter. He asked about upgrading it to the Home Premium edition.

The Windows 7 Starter edition is the cheapest, least-powerful version of Windows 7. It was never sold retail, and is only available pre-installed on inexpensive, low-power netbooks.

But here’s the funny thing: Starter isn’t significantly faster than other editions of 32-bit Windows 7. They all have the same minimum hardware requirements.

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Save your Word configurations

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Valerie Pike set up Microsoft Word the way she liked it. Then, suddenly, everything went back to the default settings. Can she get her old settings back? Or at least protect them in the future?

Microsoft Word is a wonderfully configurable tool. You can set a default font and give every new document your preferred margins. You can re-arrange the ribbons and Quick Access Toolbar. You can record simple macros and even—if you have the programming skills—write complex ones.

But if you’re not careful, all of your work personalizing Word can disappear in a keystroke. Here’s how to be careful:

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What you need to know about libraries

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Edu Azevedo asked me about Windows 7’s Libraries (they’re also in Windows 8), and why one should store files there.

To the uneducated eye, Windows’ libraries are simply convenient places to store your data files, such as documents, spreadsheets, pictures, music, and videos. And they are convenient. They make it easier to find, organize and back up the most important files on your hard drive.

But they’re not actually places—in the sense that they’re not folders on your hard drive. They’re pointers to other folders, and each library can point to more than one folder. For instance, the Documents library by default points to two different folders: My Documents and Public Documents. (The difference? Other people can more easily access the Public Documents.)

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