Med One to One Fall/Winter 2023 ISSUE 77

Practicing Digital Safety

By Jon Utley

Practicing Digital Safety

How many of your friends’ phone numbers do you have memorized? When was the last time you pulled out a map made of paper to get from Point A to Point B? When was the last time you wrote a check to pay a utility bill? Little by little, every aspect of our lives is being transformed by the digital landscape. Many of these digital frontiers are convenient, efficient, and effective. But as with any frontier, there is also danger. Today I want to give you a few tips on how you can avoid some of these dangers.

I will start with a little story. Six friends who lived in the Noida region of India were approached by a businessperson who asked if they wanted to make some serious money. Their job was to answer the phone and provide tech support to home PC users. It sounded easy enough—they signed on. The businessperson then turned to the amazing company Alphabet Inc., which happens to own this small company called Google. She paid quite a large amount of money to be among the very first results when someone did a Google search for “Geek Squad,” the name of Best Buy’s technical support team. Suddenly, hundreds of Americans looking for tech support online were coming across the number for Geek Care in Noida, India. After dialing the number, they’d be instructed by the person on the other end to load remote control software onto their PC, allowing the so-called PC Technician to take over the computer. They would do a few things that would look like PC troubleshooting to most, before quickly concluding that the computer had malware or a virus. The scammer would then tell the victim they needed to purchase PC cleaning software at once. The price of this software varied based on the gut feeling of the tech—how much would this victim pay to “fix” their PC? Ultimately, some paid $59, some paid $599, and some even as much as $1600. All told, over 15 months, these six friends collected $599,500 from numerous victims. Many of the PCs in question had no infection whatsoever.

“A reminder to protect ourselves and also to look out for others in the Wild Wild Digital East and West.”

One more story. Once, a relative of mine needed to return an item purchased on He wanted to call them to discuss a refund, so he googled “Amazon customer service.” One of the top results looked promising and he called the number shown. The person on the other end of the call said they needed to install some software on his iPhone to issue a refund. The software was installed. Next thing you know, the person had gained control of the iPhone, had installed a Crypto Currency Wallet, and was in the process of having the victim register their bank account with this new “Wallet.” Fortunately, another family member came into the room and inquired about what was going on and had him end the call immediately—thankfully before any funds were transferred.

So, why these two back-to-back stories? As a reminder to protect ourselves and also to look out for others in the Wild Wild Digital East and West. Here are a few tips to avoid being scammed:

I wish you a safe and wonderful digital 2024 and beyond.

- Never use a search engine to go to a website. Type into the address bar, not into a Bing or Google search box.

- Only call numbers listed on the site of the company you want to call. Even better, use official email addresses and the return process listed on the business’ site.

- Never let someone install software on your machine that allows them to see what you are doing or gives them control.

- Ask your credit card provider about disposable or temporary credit card numbers and CVCs you can give to online retailers.

- Review your credit card and bank statements regularly to ensure there are no unauthorized transactions.