Your Computer Works moves downtown, still makes house calls [Lewiston Tribune, Idaho]
(Lewiston Morning Tribune (ID) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 06--More than one computer user has logged on and found a frustrating, deceptive message.
It may look like this: The computer has been locked by the FBI since the user supposedly visited a website with illegal content and the only way to unfreeze it is to purchase a pre-paid Visa card, said Brian Coughenour, owner of Your Computer Works, a Lewiston business that recently expanded operations.
Scammers, not a law enforcement agency, are responsible, said Coughenour, who repairs computers, sets up networks of five or fewer computers and replaces screens on devices like iPads and smart telephones.
In the case of the so-called FBI virus, the scammers don't really care about their victims' web-browsing habits and have no interest in fixing a downed computer, Coughenour said.
What they want are the security codes for pre-paid Visa cards so they can spend hundreds of dollars of other people's money.
Removing that virus and many others from computers is an important part of Coughenour's business, which has relocated after adding touch-screen replacement to his list of services.
He went from his home to a commercial location at 1229 Main St., Suite 103 in Lewiston in the historic train depot building near the Nez Perce County Courthouse.
"The phones and mobile devices have made my business fairly steady," he said.
In making the move, Coughenour's sticking with his original business model of doing the majority of his work where his customers live or work.
Most people don't want the hassle of disconnecting and moving their computer to get it repaired, Coughenour said.
He charges $55 per hour and can finish most jobs in 90 minutes, which equates to a charge of $82.50.
"If I can't fix it, I'm not going to charge someone," Coughenour said, noting he doesn't charge extra for on-site visits in Lewiston, Clarkston or Asotin.
A big part of avoiding problems is picking out the right equipment, something he helps his customers do -- usually sending them to valley retailers for off-the-shelf products.
After that, it's a matter of keeping machines free of viruses, another service he provides.
Avoiding viruses is becoming increasingly difficult as they are more common, frequently lurking on lower-traffic sites, which unlike those of major retailers, aren't always looked after by a professional staff, Coughenour said.
An unprotected computer can easily be infected even with an accidental visit to the wrong web address that doesn't involve clicking on anything within the site, Coughenour said.
Some track web-browsing activity and produce pop-up ads based on what they think a consumer might be shopping for. Others go a step farther and record every key stroke, harvesting personal information such as credit card numbers.
What Coughenour knows about computers comes through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. He completed an associate's degree at Walla Walla Community College in micro-computer application and software support in 2007. He spent about two years working for other businesses as a computer technician before starting Your Computer Works.
The telephone number for the business is (509) 552-1275. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Williams may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2261.
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