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Q&A with Kim: Card skimmers, government internet credits and more

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 most difficult part of my job.

This week, I received questions about card skimmers, government internet credits and more. Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? Click here to email me directly.

Avoiding skimmers

Q: ATM and credit card skimmers freak me out! What do they look like? How do you know if you are using a bad one?

A: You’re right to be cautious. Skimmers are hard to spot, and you never know when a tiny microchip will scan your card and help a criminal drain your account. The term “skimmer” is pretty loose, referring to many different types of technology, including hidden cameras. There is even the lesser-known “shimmer,” which is practically invisible. Certain clues around ATM and credit card machines are dead giveaways that they are contaminated. Click here to see what skimmers look like so you don’t get taken.

Need-based internet

Q: I’m totally broke. Is it true I can get a reduction in my phone and internet access if I am poor?

A: First of all, I hope you have a windfall soon. Being broke is no fun at all, and this can pose particular problems for people who need internet access to search for jobs, pay bills, and do other basic tasks. Most people can no longer get by using the free computers at the local library if they even have access to one. If you meet certain criteria, the government can give you assistance that will make things easier. Click here to learn about the FCC program to help cover the cost of your phone and internet bills.

Watching kids’ phones

Q: My son is up to no good on his phone. I just know it. How do I catch him?

A: Cellphones aren’t very old, but the question is as old as the hills: What do teenagers do when they’re not being watched? Most adolescents like to rebel and experiment with mischief, but some are particularly adept at it. Smartphones make the risks of getting into serious trouble many times more dangerous. My advice is always to have a reasonable talk with your child. But if that boat has sailed, there are some simple ways to keep track of your son’s activities. Click here for three ways to track your kids’ texts, photos, internet travels, and more.

Book cruises for less

Q: What’s the best way to book a cruise online? I don’t want to get ripped off.

A: Nothing darkens a vacation like the feeling that you’ve been conned. Whether this is a street urchin selling you overpriced statuettes in the streets of Rome or an airline that hikes up its fares at the last minute, we tend to resent that wasted expenditure. Finding a quality cruise for a reasonable price is an art, but there are incredible bargains out there for people who are flexible and willing to do the extra work. Booking online can be nerve-wracking, but with a little patience, you can sail for a song. Click here for online cruise-booking tips.

Archive loved ones’ texts

Q: My mom passed away. How can I save her text messages to me?

A: Before I say anything else, you have my most heartfelt condolences. Losing a parent is one of the most painful and difficult things we can face. I completely understand the desire to save those daily correspondences, because they preserve so much of our regular lives. You especially want to archive these texts if your phone is older and you’re worried they’ll be lost forever. There are certain ways to do this, but the techniques vary slightly between iOS and Android. Click here to learn how to save your precious text messages.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

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