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Kim's column

Trick to detect skimmers, Hide orders, Buying used phones 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 on how to use your phone to detect skimmers, hiding orders, buying used phones and more. Do you have a question you’d like to ask me? Click here to email me directly.

Trick: Use your phone to detect skimmers

Q: ATM and gas pump skimmers are so devious. Is there a telltale clue we should be on the look out for so hackers don’t get our money?

A: Criminals cleverly place a phony card reader or skimmer on top of a real one. It could fit over an ATM or a point-of-purchase card reader, like the ones you use to pay for groceries or gasoline. The fake skimmers are so small that it’s hard to tell they’re even there. If you insert your payment card into the phony reader, the thief will steal your card number and PIN. Fortunately, there’s a clever way to find skimmers. The best news is that you’re already carrying the device you need to detect credit card skimmers in your pocket: your cellphone. Click here to detect hidden credit card skimmers with this smartphone trick.

Hide sexy Amazon orders from the wife

Q: I don’t want my wife to see the sexy and risqué things that I buy on Amazon. How do I shop in secret?

A: Hiding your Amazon history can be necessary for a variety of things. It could be for a personal reason, like purchased or searched items you’re too embarrassed to reveal, or for something with an altruistic twist. Most of the time, you just don’t want to reveal spoilers for gifts you’ve bought for your loved ones. You can hide your purchases and even have your orders shipped to a temporary address. Click here for the insider tricks to hide your Amazon orders and tracks.

Tech dumbing us down or making us smarter?

Q: We Google everything all the time that it’s making society stupid. We no longer think for ourselves. We have to look up basic facts. What do you think?

A: What if the internet isn’t just a resource, but actually an extension of the mind? A cognitive brain enhancement tool that is transforming the way humans think? Some experts eagerly pursue that notion, while others believe that technology is making us lazy and incapable of thinking for ourselves. In a recent podcast “Is Technology Dumbing Us Down,” I explore this question with four leading experts in the fields of Critical Thinking, Analytical Instrument Manufacturing, Strategic Studies, Psychology, Education, Mathematics, Theology, and Engineering. Click here to listen to what the experts believe is happening to our brains on technology.

Is this used phone stolen?

Q: I’d like to save money and buy a used smartphone. How do I check to see if it was stolen and blocked by the carrier?

A: Many people sell unlocked phones online, and you’re right you don’t want a brick. The seller could be someone who wants to get some quick cash for a phone they no longer want. Or the seller could be a thief who runs a stolen phone ring. Phones have a unique IMEI number. This number is used to block a device that has been reported missing or stolen. All you need to do is check the IMEI database before you buy the phone. Click here to learn how to find a phone’s IMEI number and search the database.

Search family tree for free

Q: I would like to research my family history. I keep running into a site that wants to charge me a monthly fee. Is there a site I can use for free?

A: There is nothing quite as intriguing as your family tree. It’s human nature to wonder, “Who am I? Where did I come from?” Of course, families like yours have always passed down information about ancestors by word-of-mouth. This has been going on for millennia but, of course, your family stories have gotten murky over the years. If you’re willing to do the work, you can put together your family ancestry for free. Click here to learn where to start your search and which free websites will fill in the details.

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.

More articles you can’t miss:

Why you’ll be taking a ton of 360-degree photos next year

5 scams that are fooling even the smartest victims

Are “low” airline fares actually still a ripoff?

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