Claiming that a computer is infected and offering to clear the infection for $250 or so is a common scam, Patrick Marshall writes. Also this week: A workaround for a mouse that won’t wake up is a clue to the cause of the problem.
Q: I recently installed Windows 7 on my computer, upgrading from Vista, using a disc purchased. After installation, I was unable to use my printer, so I went online and tried to resolve the problem using a process that was available on an HP website. (Both the printer and computer are HP devices.)
A pop-up appeared that indicated I should call a number to get help. I was informed by the consultant that my computer was infected and that I was in imminent danger of losing all my data, even the data backed up on my external hard drive, if I did not have them clear the infection for $250.
Also, since we are on a network, my wife’s computer would have to be cleared for an additional $250. She received the same dire message I received. We were so suitably intimidated that we subscribed to the recommended service.
My feeling is that HP is outsourcing customer problems to services that are interested only in turning a profit rather than actually resolving problems. I am very suspicious that the story about the infection was little more than a scam to scare the customer. Beyond that, the services seem to be incapable of adequately dealing with the problems that users experience.
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A: Yes, it appears you were scammed, but not by HP. Most likely, you have malware on your computer that directed you to a fake HP website.
Pop-ups claiming that a computer is infected and offering to clear the infection for an amount in that neighborhood is a common scam. It is not something HP does.
What’s more, while it’s likely that your data was not really at risk, the malware could still be on your computer. If a good malware-removal tool can’t find and eliminate the culprit you may need to reformat the disc drive and reinstall Windows and your applications.
Make sure you have reliable and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware programs running. Even then, it’s not uncommon when visiting some website — especially sketchy websites — to run into pop-up warning about infections.
Finally, never call a number on such a pop-up or by following a link on such a pop-up. To contact HP support, rather than a number on a pop-up, search the Internet for HP support and then check that the URL really is at HP (it will be http://support.hp.com).
Q: We exchanged emails a while ago about my Bluetooth mouse that kept going to sleep when I wasn’t using the computer. By chance I happened upon a solution, and would like to know if this makes sense in the whole Bluetooth scheme of things.
Yesterday, the mouse took even longer than usual to “wake up” again, so I went into the Bluetooth settings window to make sure it was there. It was, I closed the window, and it started right up.
So now I have experimented three times with simply opening the Bluetooth device settings window when the mouse is asleep, and it wakes right up.
Any idea why this should work? I am running Windows 10 and the device is the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse.
— Nancy Winder
A: Yes, that clue is helpful. My guess is that the driver for your Bluetooth radio is configured to allow the computer to put it to sleep when the computer goes into sleep mode. Then its radio isn’t waking up along with the rest of the computer. When you check on it in the Bluetooth settings window, you’re waking it up.
Go to the Control Panel and launch Device Manager. Locate “Bluetooth” in the list of devices and under that locate the radio device. Click on the Power Management tab and then clear the box next to “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.”