Illustration picture of a hacker. (Credit: iStock)
Data Breach Hell
Q: I’m freaked out! With all the data breaches, is there anything I can do to protect myself from getting scammed?
A: You are absolutely right, and it’s no exaggeration to say that 2019 has been a landmark year for data breaches. You have sensed this already; new hacks are announced almost every week, and some targets are major financial institutions. Car manufacturers and medical companies have also fallen victim. Nearly as frightening as the data theft itself is not knowing what data was stolen. There are ways to protect yourself, or at least mitigate the damage, but you should act soon. Tap or click here to see a list of the significant data breaches so far this year.
Stop Spam Texts
Q: I'm not sure what's worse, robocalls, or spammy text messages! How can I block spam text messages from taking over my phone?
A: Spam texts are quickly becoming an epidemic in their own right, inundating cell phones with useless or misleading correspondence. Phone carriers are finally taking this threat seriously and attempting to track down and diminish the “robo” market. Still, limiting the number of texts you receive remains a challenge, and some people don’t realize how many defenses they have at their disposal, such as blocking numbers, texting STOP to the number in question, or filing a complaint with the FTC. Tap or click here to block spam text messages.
Overseas Phone Service
Q: In a few months, the wife and I are taking a trip to Rome. How can I make sure I don’t get hit with a huge cell phone bill?
A: One solution is both easy and sustainable, and it works in most foreign countries: You buy an “unlocked” smartphone, and when you arrive at the airport, you have a local SIM card installed. You can usually find a booth at the airport, where agents are ready and waiting to provide you with service; they’ll ask you how long you’re in the country, and they’ll explain different packages to you. When a friend recently visited Taiwan, he brought an old iPhone and was able to secure two weeks of unlimited data for less than $20. This is very convenient, especially if you travel often. But if you already have an international data plan and want to use it responsibly, make sure you change one thing. Tap or click here for the smartphone setting that could save you big money.
My Favorite App
Q: I love your website. Do you have an app for my phone?
A: If you love consumer tech, you may want to start by signing up for our newsletters. As for an app – yes, we do have one, and people have given us lots of great customer feedback. You can access news alerts and hidden features that the regular website visitor doesn't even know exists. These articles are always thoughtful and informative, and they're especially helpful for keeping your gadgets safe from cyber-criminals and data thieves. You can also get real-time severe weather alerts, no matter where you live. Available for free on Android and iOS. Tap or click here to download the Komando app now.
Q: Is it a good time to buy a 4K TV? I don’t want to waste money on tech.
A: Actually, no, it's not a great time to invest in 4K. Understand, 4K TVs are pretty amazing, and the picture quality can shock and amaze. The Ks have only gone up from there, such as 8K resolution, but it's hard to say whether this improves the visual experience for the typical viewer. Much of this gear is designed for enthusiasts, and streaming services like Netflix provide a decent picture but can hardly match the quality your screen is capable of. In short, you may want to wait a little bit longer, because HDR is about to expand into consumer television sets. You've probably seen those letters before; this is a file type that you can likely use on your phone's camera. But what it is exactly? That requires a little explanation – and you might just hold out for it. Tap or click here for more about HDR.
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.
Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.