Advice: Words from the wise

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My good friend Dennis Edelbrock sent me the following update on how to remove the dreaded and bogus Microsoft pop-up scam program. I routinely get one to five calls per day from consumers about pop-ups. The following is great information. Cut it out and tape it next to your computer:

“This is something I whipped up on the Computer Scams we have been seeing as of late. Sometimes, your “Just unplug it” doesn’t always work for those people with Windows 8 or Windows 10 due to the way those two operating systems work. So if you think this is worthy, it might help somebody out there. Several people you have directed to me that have been running Windows 10 have been helped by this advice. Keep up the good work.”

Dennis Edelbrock

Computer Guy

HOW TO REMOVE A SCAM POP-UP ON YOUR PC

There are several kinds of these SCAM pop-ups that are floating around the internet. They may be different colors and say different things and even have a voice repeating, “Do not turn off your computer” or something to that effect. However, they are all fake. The phone numbers they tell you to call for help are supposedly from Microsoft or some other tech support site but will take you directly to the SCAMMER.

The fix that works in 99 percent of the cases is just shut down your computer normally and wait 30 seconds and start it back up and the pop-up will be gone. Some of these pop-ups cover up the shutdown button on your screen. In that case press and hold the power on button on the computer and slowly count to 10. This will force the computer to shut down. This works on computers with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

However, those of you with Windows 8 or Windows 10 need to do it differently. Before you select Shutdown you must press and hold down the Shift key on the keyboard while selecting Shutdown. Continue holding the Shift key until the computer shuts completely down and your screen goes black. Release the Shift key. Wait 30 seconds and restart the computer. The pop-up will be gone. I hope this helps.

Needless to say, if you are still having problems — call me.

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The following is from a consumer writer, Christopher Elliott.

TIME FOR A NEW LAW: It’s time for a federal “automatic renewal” law. Too many businesses overcharge their customers with auto-renewing club dues, gym memberships, and subscriptions. For residents of at least one state, it will soon. But the protections don’t go far enough, and they don’t apply to enough people to make a difference. We need a tough federal “automatic renewal” law.

On July 1, California’s automatic renewal and continuous service law went into effect. You can read it here: https://bit.ly/2tpKP6E. This bill requires a business to include a “clear and conspicuous” explanation of the price charged after a trial ends. It would also prohibit companies from charging a consumer for an automatic renewal or continuous service made at a promotional or discounted price without first obtaining the consumer’s consent. The California law also says a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer online must be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal.

Corporate lobbyists will fight a federal “automatic renewal” law because many companies have built their businesses around lax “automatic renewal” laws. Consider Amazon, which automatically enrolls you in auto-renew for Amazon Prime when you sign up. Why? Amazon would argue it’s a “convenience” for customers. Why that may be true for some customers, many customers will simply forget about their annual renewal. Amazon’s annual notification about their renewal will go unnoticed or to the “spam” box, and they’ll get signed up for another year of Prime.

When you log into your Amazon account, there’s no button that says “cancel your Prime membership,” the option is three counterintuitive clicks into the site. Once you start the process, Amazon starts to scream: “Are you sure you want to cancel?” Countless businesses rely on these often deceptive negative option opt-outs to generate large profits.

What a new law must do:

When you sign up for a “free” membership, the renewal must be opt-out by default. If you don’t positively affirm your renewal at the end of the free trial, a business may not continue to charge you.

When you sign up for automatic renewal, you should have the choice of receiving regular opt-in requests to keep you subscribed (weekly, monthly, yearly). At no point should an opt-in request exceed one year. In other words, any federal automatic renewal law would mandate that I re-up manually at least once a year.

Banks, credit cards and financial institutions whose “dispute” departments routinely side with auto-renewing companies must be held accountable. If they permit an illegal auto-renewal, they should face significant fines.

A law should also mandate a rescission period of no less than 30 days. If you auto-renew a product, you have a month to cancel and receive a full refund, provided you haven’t used the product.

We need a “fair use” clause that says if you don’t use a product or service you’ve inadvertently renewed, you don’t have to pay for it. Companies are betting on consumers forgetting about their automatically renewed products.

A note to the critics:

Maybe you find the idea of a federal automatic renewal law difficult to swallow. You may think we already have too much government regulation. You might say if we only enforced existing laws, none of this would be necessary. Some of you will also claim that it’s our own fault if we don’t pay attention to our credit card bills. If the law adequately protected you, I would never propose a federal “automatic renewal” law. But the sad fact is, the law turns a blind eye to consumers and protects companies, which build their businesses around deceiving consumers. A recent survey found consumers saved an average of $512 a year when they eliminated recurring charges.

Maybe it’s time for the insanity to end. Maybe it’s time for a federal automatic renewal law.

(Maybe it would be a good start for our Idaho lawmakers to start protecting us?)

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REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He’s On Your Side”

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I have many more tips and interesting cases that I’m working on. Call me at 208-699-0506, or email me at brookshomes@gmail.com (#GoGetEmBillBrooks) You can follow me at www.billbrooksconsumer advocate.com. I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the broker and owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d’Alene.

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