As with life in general, high-tech life is fraught with
scams and scammers. These people are always on the prowl for people
they can confuse and con. Along with all your other responsibilities as a
high-tech worker, you should be aware of these scams and do everything you
can to protect your clients. It can only take an unwary moment or a bit of
confusion to allow their computer to be compromised in ways large and small.
You owe it to yourself and your clients to help and educate them long before
they have to face the consequences of a scam.
Get the word out
Your first line of defense against scams and scammers is education. Even with
the best anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed, it is often the users
themselves who open the door to a scam. Whenever a new scam appears, or an
older one starts making the rounds again, I email my clients and include a
notice in my monthly newsletter. I also instruct my clients to call, email
or instant message me if they ever have a doubt about a particular email or
software update. I cannot count the number of times I have prevented a user
from handing out their private information or risking possible destruction
of their data using this rule alone.
This education process should be a constant part of your relationship with
your clients. Whenever I visit someone, or talk on the phone, I remind them
about their anti-virus upgrades, free software to check for Spyware and any
new exploits that might have shown up. There are always new hoaxes being developed
and old hoaxes being slightly modified in hopes of going unrecognized by a
new group of users. You can never let your guard down.
Part of the education process is giving your clients places to perform their
own scam research. I have a variety of web sites that I use to confirm the
veracity of a particular scam. My first step is to take a significant sentence
from any suspected email and use it as a search term in Google. Often this
will turn up a variety of information regarding the email. In most cases this
quickly shows it as a known hoax or scam. There are also web sites dedicated
to the tracking and debunking of Internet hoaxes and scams. I often turn to
Vmyths.com if Google doesn’t turn up anything significant to my search.
You can easily search their database of known hoaxes and variants and they
also produce regular email newsletters to help keep you and your clients informed.
Sure, I could gain hours of work by focusing on cleanup of damage instead
of prevention, but cleanup work generates ill will with your clients and can
eventually chase them away from using computers entirely. While the user is
not upset with you or your work, the self-recriminations over being taken
in by a scam can color their relationship with you. Since you are the person
they deal with face-to-face, you can sometimes, unfairly, bear the brunt of
their anger and frustration. Constantly having to cleanup a client’s
computer will eventually sour your relationship, regardless of how the user
was infected or scammed. I would much rather spend my time teaching a client
how to get the most out of their computer. It is much more rewarding for both
It is an act of self-preservation to do everything you can to protect your
clients. Recommend and install anti-virus software. Be on the watch for hoax
email and spyware that can compromise the security of a client’s computer.
Above all else, educate and communicate whenever possible. This will insure
that your time, and your client’s time, is as productive as possible.
This productivity will result in a longer, more lucrative, relationship with
Developing a relationship with your clients can be a major factor in building
your high-tech career and protecting them from scams is an important way to
build a bond. It doesn’t take a large amount of time or energy to pass
along scam information or assist your clients in protecting themselves, but
it can yield large rewards for both. Don’t let your high-tech career
founder on the scams of others.
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about this column.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van
Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by
joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/
He can reached via email at email@example.com