Gut instincts in the digital world

Are you handy with fixing things around your house related to electrical, plumbing or even technology? As a self-proclaimed geek, I can only say yes to the last item. If you are intimidated by technology, I am equally intimidated by the idea of trying to fix an electrical or plumbing issue around our house.

Granted, things have gotten better because instructional videos, from how to fix a washing machine to changing a lighting fixture, can be found in the digital world. But sometimes even a detailed video from YouTube doesn’t solve my emergency. For those times I rely on the product’s or service’s support department to get me out of a crunch.

So when my friend Barb (not her real name) told me of her recent ordeal in the digital world, it really bothered me. Barb is a “non-geek” in the purest definition of this made-up word, yet she tries to adapt to the digital world – like when she learned to keep abreast of her niece and nephew’s growth by receiving their Facebook and Instagram updates (“They never call anymore,” she used to say). Occasional bumps do set her back, but not often anymore.

One day in January her internet slowed down to a crawl. She called her internet service provider’s technical support line and was connected to an overseas customer service representative. He proceeded to connect to her computer and showed her a couple pages of technical information that she didn’t understand. He said they showed a half-dozen hackers on her network and more waiting in-line … and that was why her internet was slow as molasses. What she did understand was the solicitation this representative was making: he will transfer her to a third party who can sell her security protection services.

Barb was wary of the offer; last year she called a remote computer support service she had found on the internet to fix a problem she was having. By the end of that phone call she was talked into signing a contract worth $500 in exchange for three years of remote technical support. Needless to say she didn’t get much, if any, legitimate service.

Because of that experience a year earlier, she immediately hung up the phone this time when she found out what the representative was trying to talk her into.

As for my part I showed her that although an intrusion of her network is still a possibility, there were no signs that such intrusion like what the representative claimed had occurred and the difficult-to-guess password on her wireless router was still effective in my opinion.

I told Barb that she had probably gotten a “bad apple” on the other end of the phone line that was duping subscribers to another outfit for commission or some other personal gain for the representative. This only shows that its okay to follow your gut instincts when something doesn’t feel right in the digital world … I’m glad Barb did! And her internet went back to normal speeds later that day.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart consulting, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 9:05 AM, 02.17.2015