Have I reached the Party to Whom I Am Speaking?

With the old “Phone Book” gone the way of the Polar Ice Cap, you often turn instead to the computer when you need the telephone number of a business to call for help.  On the surface, this would seem to be a quick, convenient and up-to-date way to access a number and sometimes you can even save some time by distinguishing the various departments or locations that you might need to reach.  Another time you look up a site is when you want to download some little utility that you need, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, or maybe the free version of an anti-virus utility.

Google or other search sites are quick and efficient for these purposes, but you must be wary of a couple of complications. First is the possibility of clicking on a link that is not the genuine site that it appears to be.  If you want to talk to Rogers, or Bell, or Hewlett Packard, or Microsoft, etc., it is very easy to be waylaid into an imposter site that looks just like the real thing, but is in fact a call centre run by crooks who will offer worthless advice and charge an arm and a leg for it.  Always be sure that the web address (the http://www.etc.) is the real company, and while you are at it, give yourself a head start by seeing if there is a Canadian (.ca instead of .com) version.

Next is when you are looking for a website that offers a download of something that you need (Adobe Acrobat Reader, for example again) and you find what appears to be your source, but it turns out not to be owned and operated by the actual publisher of that software.  Adobe is a long-established and reputable company and you are quite safe in downloading software from the real Adobe website.  The problem is that if you search for “Adobe Acrobat Reader Download” you will find pages upon pages of alternate locations from which you can download Reader and many of them may not be legitimate, because they will lead you to the same old scams, or fly-by-night “alternatives” to the software you really want.

Another time to be careful is when you are downloading and installing the program.  Lots of very handy little utilities are out there, available at no charge.  (One example that we recommend constantly is “Irfanview” which is a free program for very simple editing of photos.)  These publishers have to pay the rent and so instead of charging for their program, they sometimes enter into agreements with one another, and there will be an unobtrusive little checkbox during installation that bundles in another program that might have been useful to you in some circumstances, but perhaps not right now.  A common example might be an anti-virus program and you certainly don’t want that if you already have one working on your computer – and so you have to watch out for those little boxes!

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