Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Tag: Tips

Tips on Spotting a Phishing Email

Countless phishing or spam emails are sent every day all over the world. They might congratulate you on winning a great sum of cash or threaten you by claiming to represent your bank or credit card company. While unfortunately there is no one trick to telling a scam from a legitimate message, Great Plains Communications has put together some steps to take when trying to tell the difference.

  1. Identify the Sender

Often phishing emails will come across as a company or person you know, appearing to be perfectly valid. But beware, URLs can be faked. By hovering the mouse over a URL in an email, you will see a hyperlinked address in most email clients. If the actual address appears to be different from the URL in the text, the link is probably not legitimate and most likely a scam.

Another tactic often used is taking a familiar domain and changing it slightly. We have included some examples below:

Don’t fall for the spoof. If you aren’t sure if the email is truly coming from Microsoft, for example, go to the website through your browser and find tech support through there rather than the email.

  1. Screen the Links

Just because you have screened the sender does NOT mean you should freely click links included in the email. Emails can contain links to malicious websites while appearing to be websites you frequent daily. Like we mentioned with the sender URL, hover over a link or button (ex. Track package), and it will show you where it will take you. Sometimes it will pop up in a box next to your cursor and sometimes it will pop up in the corner of your screen. If you don’t recognize a linked website, it is best not to visit it.

  1. Don’t Trust Attachments

While you can get some insight into the links included in an email, this isn’t the case with attachments and by blindly opening these files, you run the risk of malware disguised as documents.

Malware: an umbrella term for things such as viruses, ransomware and spyware.

Some familiar file extensions you may see are:

Other file extensions could be:

These extensions are called executables, which can make your computer perform specific actions or control your computer. If you receive an executable in an email from an unknown or lesser known source, it is best to assume it is unsafe.

  1. Rely on Common Sense

It can be confusing when you are caught off-guard while skimming through your emails. If the email reads poorly with extreme lack of spelling and grammar, put your guard up. If an email is asking for personal information such as your password or a bank account number (something your bank already has), keep your guard up. Trust your gut and if something doesn’t look right, something is probably off.

 

Regarding emails including Great Plains Communications, please know that we will never ask for customer passwords via email. If you ever receive an email which includes our name and you feel it may be a scam, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and do NOT reply, open attachments, or click any links embedded in the message.

Tips to Keeping your Electronics Cool this Summer

We are in the middle of summer and the temperatures are staying hot and steady. Are you keeping your electronics cool through the heat? Extreme heat can be potentially detrimental to your expensive gadgets. Great Plains Communications has some tips on keeping not only your portable devices cool, but your home computer as well.

  1. Be mindful of where you leave your devices. It may sound like common sense, but maybe you needed to run into the store or class for an hour or two and you left your laptop on the back seat of your car. This kind of heat can cause major damage to the battery and other sensitive electronics. And if temperatures got high enough, it could even affect the connections between different components of your device.
  2. Consider your case. Just as black clothing attracts more sun, a black case on your phone or tablet could do the same. Instead of buying a whole new case, consider getting a foamed neoprene sleeve or cover for summer months. The foam (which is used for wetsuits) will not only add extra protection from clumsiness, but the material will also keep it cooler than most plastics.
  3. Watch your screen. It’s true that many e-readers are glare-free and can be used in the sun. However, when it isn’t in use, don’t let it sit out. Too much contact with sunlight can cause the LCDs in your screen to deteriorate and shorten the lifespan of your device.
  4. Don’t forget your home electronics. Just because your desktop computer is inside your home, doesn’t mean it isn’t at risk from heat damage. Make sure to keep electronics out of direct sunlight. Also, always leave room for airflow around your equipment and never cover any vents or fans. Most computers, routers, and other devices have vents in the back or on the side. If they are placed in tight areas, the air pumped through the vents will gradually become hotter and hotter, which could ultimately overheat your machine.

Internet Search Tips

Not sure of the capital of Portugal? Can’t remember who played Chunk in The Goonies? What’s the weather going to be like Friday night? Google it.

The internet is full of more information than we could imagine or even retain. While this is an exciting fact, it can also make for long tiresome searches as you wade through pages of results. Great Plains Communications has a few tips to help streamline your search.

  1. To help with a more specific search, try using the AROUND feature. It allows you to find articles with two key words not only on the same page, but inside a specific number of words apart. For example, if you wanted to search for articles on Selena Gomez and lipstick within 8 words of each other, it would look like the following:

“Selena Gomez” AROUND(8) “Lipstick”

  1. Instead of including an additional topic in your search, maybe you want to find results excluding a topic. For that you would use the minus sign. For example, if you wanted to search for washers and dryers but didn’t want the stacked option, it would look like:

“washer and dryer -stacked”

  1. You have found an article you like, but it is long. Do a quick search of the article for a key word or phrase by pressing Control + F (Windows) or Command + F (Mac).
  2. You have been working hard and finally found the information you have been looking for, but you accidentally close the tab. In most modern browsers, just press Control + Shift + T (Windows) or Command + Shift + T (Mac) and it will come right back up.

Facebook Tips You Might Have Missed

As you have probably noticed, social media sites are constantly updating with new features and layouts. This can be great, but it can also lead to users missing out on certain features, due to not even knowing they were added. Great Plains Communications wants to highlight a couple Facebook tips to look out for next time you are browsing through your newsfeed.

 

Following a Post

Have you ever come across a post in your newsfeed or swap group, that you want to keep track of? There is no need to comment, “following” or really comment anything at all. All you need to do is go to the small arrow in the top right corner of the post and choose the option “Turn on notifications for this post”. From there, you will get a notification each time somebody comments on the post, or if the original creator changes something. To later turn off notifications for the post, you will follow the same steps, however it will read “Turn off notifications for this post.”

 

Checking Your Apps

We have all taken the quiz to find out what flavor ice cream we are or clicked the article heading that Facebook clearly targeted to our interests. If not that, you have probably logged-in to something and when asked if you wanted to log-in using your Facebook, you were grateful for the convenience. While these types of things are just that, convenient, they can also be risky. By not reading the pop-ups as you click through these posts, you can miss things like allowing them to “access your contacts and information.” This can lead to giving a company or even scammers access to your Facebook page or personal information. To check who you have given access to, you can check your App Settings. To do this, follow the directions below:

 

Go to Settings from the drop-down arrow in the top right.

 

Go to Apps in the column on the left.

 

You will find all the Apps you have given access to. Delete any that are unnecessary or are not familiar.