Voices From the Lab: Austin Free-Net Keeps Our Users Safe

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Client Harry at ARCHWhen Harry entered the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) he was pretty sure that he’d know a scam if he heard one.  He’s lived on the streets of Austin for a long while now and says that makes him street wise.  While it’s true Harry is super-wise regarding his safety on the streets of Austin, he was less than secure in his knowledge of being scammed online.

“Harry came into my computer lab at ARCH and as with all my clients, I gave him a short, but pertinent quiz, Are You Being Scammed,” says Austin Free-Net Trainer Emily.   “The first time he took the quiz I sat with Harry and explained where he’d been correct and incorrect.  He was shocked to see how many he’d missed.”

Online scams take advantage of a new computer user much like a snake oil salesman would take advantage of innocent people back in the Old West.  Same scam, different technology.  Emily created the quiz and its follow-up quiz covering online scamming because she was frustrated at how many of our clients were being taken and having their hopes dashed.  “Our clients are good people. Their innocence at spotting an online scam is sad. Their lives are already harsh; it strikes me hard when they’re taken in by a scam – especially those about possible work or housing.”

Emily uses her training in adult education when administering her quizzes.  She works one-on-one with her clients to walk them through areas such as key words, types of scams, and what is a legitimate email and what isn’t.  She understands that her clients are not used to traditional classroom work and makes adjustments for each client’s needs.

After adequate training and after our clients are comfortable with the topic, Emily issues a follow-up quiz to see if the subject was learned and internalized – thus ensuring that the client is able to utilize their new computer skills outside of our labs.  Our goal is to help create independent computer users.

Harry, who received a low percentile on his first quiz, proudly received a much improved score and was able to spot the scam emails which had confused him when he first began.

If you or your company wishes to learn more about what Austin Free-Net does to promote healthy computer usage, please feel free to contact us at 512-236-8225.

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