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 hidden phone trackers, ending robocalls, checking strange links, and more.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?
Find hidden phone trackers
Q: My ex is a total geek who is completely obsessed with me. I think he put a tracker or something on my phone. How can I tell for sure?
A: The street term for this is “stalkerware,” and it’s more common than ever partly because the technology is so easy to obtain. Software is installed on your phone that tracks and reports back every single thing you do on your phone and where you go.
A simple way to check whether this software has infiltrated your device is through data usage: this kind of program requires data to report back to whoever is behind it continuously. If your data usage has mysteriously skyrocketed, you may be onto something. Tap or click here for more ways to see if stalkerware is on your phone.
Q: I am so tired of robocalls. Is there anything I can do to make them stop? They are driving me crazy!
A: Many robocalls originate overseas. Robocalls may come from legitimate organizations, but they’re frequently scams or phishing schemes. Whatever you do, don’t interact with a robocall, because they often have special software that will record your voice and use it for identity theft.
Your best tactic is just to block the number if you can. This is a good technique to learn because it’s easy and can prove useful in many different situations, including friends and exes you want to keep at arm’s length. In the past, people have changed their number to avoid unwanted calls, but this is becoming a rare last resort. Tap or click here for the best ways to block unwanted calls.
Smart TV hacking risks
Q: I don’t want Netflix. Are there any other reasons to connect my new smart TV to the internet? What about hacking risks?
A: This question was posted on my new Komando Community, a safe place to ask any tech question and get expert help. Tap or click here to join now.
To answer your question, like your phone and tablet, smart TVs let you add apps that give you access to video streaming services such as Netflix. You can also use your smart TV to get regular weather reports, stream live shows like mine, and even browse the web.
That said, smart TVs are vulnerable to hacking, identity theft, and the selling of your data to Big Tech. If you are going to connect your TV to the internet, make sure your router is up to date, password-protected, and you run regular scans for malware and viruses. Tap or click here to read more about smart TVs spying on you.
Delete dubious searches
Q: I searched for things on Google that I shouldn’t have using our family computer. How can I erase those searches for good? I don’t want my kids to see that.
A: There are many reasons you might want to keep your searches private, especially just before birthdays or gift-giving holidays. You might also be sick of certain targeted advertising, which is primarily based on your search history and the cookies it attracts.
Presuming you used Google, there are several ways to hide your searches, starting with deletion. Deleting your whole history might raise suspicion since familiar websites will suddenly not be recognized. Luckily, Google now enables you to eliminate specific searches, so you don’t have to remove everything. Tap or click here for seven things you didn’t know Google searches could do until now.
Q: Is there a way to see if a link is legitimate before you click it? I’d hate to get malware from just clicking the wrong thing!
A: Curiosity often gets the best of us, but remember: if you’re not 100 percent sure where a link leads, DO NOT CLICK. I can’t stress this enough. Entire companies have been frozen or held hostage by malware all because one worker got careless with a credible-looking hyper-link. It’s one thing to put your computer at risk, but crippling a network could lead to lost money, lawsuits, and even tangible danger.
Several websites can check those links for you; all you have to do is copy and paste the URL (be careful doing this), and you can find out whether it’s been cited before. There’s no excuse for clumsiness, especially now that the stakes are so high, and awareness so widespread. Tap or click here for four ways to check if a link is safe before you click it.
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.