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Router checks, free credit reports, Windows help and more: Tech Q&A

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.

Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job. This week, I received questions about free credit reports, getting Windows help, security checks and more.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? It’s easy to do.

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Payment app lowdown

Q: My 31-year-old unemployed worthless brother wants me to send him money using Venmo. Is this a safe way to give someone money? I definitely don’t want him to have my credit card number or checking account number.

A: Argh, that sounds like an annoying situation. Venmo is considered the go-to service for “peer-to-peer” transactions, and millions of people use it every day without incident.

A big problem with the service is how public your transactions can be; by default, you can watch transactions take place between friends and relations, thanks to Venmo’s chummy relationship with Facebook.

I recommend changing these settings as soon as possible, as there is no sensible reason to carry out these transactions publicly. There are many similar services to Venmo available, including Apple Pay with compatible devices. Tap or click here for the safest ways to give someone money digitally and one service to avoid.

Change mobile signature

Q: Every time I send a message, at the bottom, it says, “Sent from my iPhone.” It annoys the heck out of me. Can I change that message?

A: Putting that message in all iPhone messages by default is real genius marketing. Whoever thought of it should have gotten a huge bonus from Apple. But you’re not the only one aggravated by it. Many people have no idea they can change this signature line, or even that it is, technically, a signature line.

You may have noticed certain email platforms allow you to use a signature in their desktop versions, but that signature doesn’t carry over to the mobile versions. This can be frustrating, but it’s a pretty quick fix. Tap or click here to change your mobile email signature.

Free credit report

Q: I know that I have better credit than my future wife, who buys whatever she sees in Instagram ads. What’s the best way to get both of our credit scores before we go condo shopping?

A: It’s hard to believe how difficult it used to be to check your credit. Until recently, the very act of checking your credit score was said to damage it. Today, many different services let you check your credit for free. You can check both your credit and your future wife’s, and you can see itemized lists of all credit cards, loans, car leases and so on.

You will probably have to consult your realtor and financial representative for the best way to handle the uneven scores. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting one name on the mortgage and adding your fiancée after the closing. Tap or click here to check your credit report for free and what to look for.

Help fixing a PC

Q: I don’t want to pay a big box company for a house call to fix my two-year-old Windows PC. Last time, the kid tried to upsell me a bunch of services, including buying a new computer.

A: You can Google a lot of tech support issues and find answers — but the problem is you can’t always trust what you see online. If the steps are at a manufacturer’s site or official YouTube channel, you’ll be fine.

I’ve been answering general and tech support questions for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve developed a strong following of novices and pros alike. I have a dedicated question and answer community filled with people who can troubleshoot your problems. You simply have to sign up, and then all your questions are answered by either myself, my team or other trusted, knowledgeable folks. Tap or click here to check out the Komando Community forums.

Check your firewall

Q: How do I know if my router and firewall are keeping the hackers out? There must be a way to test it to be sure it’s working.

A: I’m glad you asked this question because people routinely forget routers have security settings, just like Wi-Fi networks and online accounts. But checking your router is a little more technical than checking your Wi-Fi. You sometimes have to look up specific instructions for your particular model.

Yes, you can test your firewall’s effectiveness and it’s not nearly as hard as you might fear. You may need to consult your manual; in the likely event you’ve lost the original paper copy, you can almost always find an online version. Tap or click here to test your router to make sure it’s keeping hackers out.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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