FREEPORT — Edward Alderman, who started operating Computer Tutor in 2007, has seen an upsurge in business as people work remotely from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alderman began to see an increase in calls for help beginning mid-March, when many people were sent home to work remotely by their companies in order to prevent spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus. He has had to fix network issues and help with printers and monitors.
As coronavirus cases have surged, so have the number of companies asking their employees to work from home, according to Forbes. Some 46% of American businesses implemented remote-work policies as of mid-February. While telecommuting has become more mainstream in recent years— the remote workforce grew 159% between 2005 and 2017 — when just 3.4% of Americans worked from home at least half of the time.
“The best part for me is the interaction with people, and seeing a smile when I am able to help them correct a problem,” Alderman said. “I love to fix problems that I am called for, and it is computers and conversation that makes my day.”
Alderman said the coronavirus has made him busier than ever, but there is a drawback. He said he sees people getting scammed while they work from home.
He said he gets calls from people who had a computer virus or were told that and also were told they had to pay money to get their computers fixed. The scams involved using their credit cards or having the victims buy gift cards to the tune of $1,000. Scammers had their victims buy gift cards from several retail outlets, and then the victim would read the codes to them on the phone.
“Computer scammers have been around for many years, and it had gone away somewhat, but with the pandemic, it has come back, and many people are falling victim to it,” he said.
“People are allowing these scammers to get into their computers remotely, and then this is where it begins. It’s costly for them. I feel bad they got caught, and then I try to get them back to working condition.
“The sad thing is people think these calls or emails are real, and they aren’t,” Alderman said. “I want people to be more aware, be careful, and know that Microsoft and other computer companies do not make phone calls or emails.”
He said many of these scammers get access to people’s computers via downloads on the internet. He said the most common way to get scammed is downloading a recipe from social media and other accounts.
“Most of the time it happens is when the person clicks to install the recipe to print. That is when they are had,” he said. “I want people to know they should never call a number when directed to do so, and never let anyone into your computer remotely. That is the most dangerous thing to do.”
Alderman said the bulk of his work is helping guide people through the challenges of working remotely.
“Even after all this time of people working on computers, many people are still not comfortable with them. Computers still cause fear because most people are users, not technicians,” he said.
Stacy Warner of Freeport started working from home in March. She works for Sentry Insurance. She needed extra monitors at home as well as assistance with network connections.
“Working at home has gone well for me, but I found I needed that little extra that Ed and his business could provide,” Warner said. “He helped with my internet speed, and helped me get a third monitor. I will probably be working remotely through the end of the year. Now I have all I need.”
Alderman spends 90% of his time on-site helping people with their computer issues. He said he does some tutoring with his clients, never fearing giving up the secrets.
“I try to talk to my clients about what I did to fix the problem and train them to make it work for them,” he said. “I never feel uncomfortable to tell them my secrets — I don’t want them to feel I am holding back.
“What makes me smile is they are thrilled to have their computer work and that is what my job is all about,” he added.
In addition to work station computers, he works on iPads, Kindles, printers, laptops, modems, and routers.
“I love this job. I’m on the go and each job is different and unique,” Alderman said. “Every customer seems happy to see me come. That is what the job is all about.”
Jane Lethlean: [email protected]; @DOGWMN2