Beware of scammers offering ‘tech support’ |

Beware of scammers offering ‘tech support’

Doug Behl and Ken Getzspent

Photo for The Union John Hart

Our friend Patti called and said someone called her and said they were from Microsoft Tech support. Supposedly, they had heard that she was having trouble with her installation of Windows. She started to give them personal information and then thought: "What's up? Is this for real?"

This is scary. And it happens all the time. Rather than spending any more time with the crooks on the phone, Patti hung up and gave Doug a call. He spent some time with her computer to verify that they hadn't added anything inappropriate to her computer, but their scam is to convince you that they know something about you and/or your computer, and then charge you money to fix the "problem."

In a worst-case scenario, you might be convinced to allow them to make a remote connection to your computer (this always requires some effort on your part, so they have to convince you that they're genuinely trying to help) and once that happens, you've lost control over what happens.

Let's make this clear: No reputable software company will ever contact you, for any reason, with the intent of providing technical support. If you get a call offering to provide technical services, it's a scam and you should immediately hang up.

Their operation was interesting: They asked Patti to go through some steps that made it look like they knew what they were doing — they had her dig around in her settings and found a long string of numbers she was to read them, indicating that they had the correct computer. The only catch was that the numbers are the same for every installation of Windows! Luckily, Patti caught on before giving them money or allowing them to connect to her computer remotely.

If something like this has happened to you, or if you think your computer may have been infected with some sort of malware, you're best off contacting a local computer professional for help. Nevada County provides a number of qualified technicians — we, of course, suggest that you contact Malibu Software Group at, or call (855) 478-0500, ext. 2. In any case, don't fight it out alone — get professional help.

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But most importantly, don't fall for the scammers who call you offering technical support, and don't ever allow a stranger who calls you to connect to your computer remotely.

Create PDF from Word

Sue asks: I need to be able to create PDF files from within Microsoft Word. Is there some trick to doing this?

Well as my friend Sue found out, all she had to do was send me the file via email and ask me to save the file in PDF format for her. And that's how you get it done!

On the other hand, if you are using a Mac, just about every software product can print to a PDF file. Select the option to print the document, and then find the PDF option in the print dialog box. (For more information, see

On Windows, however, you may have to take extra steps. Microsoft Word, in its latest versions, can save a document to PDF format without extra tools, but earlier versions cannot. There are tools you can add into Microsoft Word to print to PDF format, including one that Doug and I both use, called CUTEPDF ( It's free, and you can download it from the web.

For current versions of Word, on Windows, look into the options to share the document as a PDF file. It's built into the product. For any product, on a Mac, choose the option to print to a PDF from the standard Print dialog box.

Doug Behl and Ken Getzspent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken's tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at Submit your questions to

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