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A reader writes: "I was hacked by someone claiming to be AVG (the anti-virus people). I had to close 20-25 accounts. My bank said I was the third person to come in that day."

The state attorney general's office told him to close all bank and payroll accounts. They'd seen the fake anti-virus ruse many times before. Best Buy's Geek Squad took a virus off his computer and put in new anti-virus software. But it was 12 days before he got his computer back.

He felt like writing the hackers to tell them to bug off. "I want a SAFE way to tell them I'm not using them ever but I'm horrified to contact them at all," he said. "I feel like a complete idiot for not seeing through them."

It's not his fault. On his phone, the hackers looked just like the real AVG Technologies anti-virus software company. One clue: They called multiple times a day. They still call him most days. Reputable companies don't do that. If you look up "AVG scam," you'll see a whole page of warnings from the real anti-virus services. Their support page gives you their actual phone numbers. They never make unsolicited calls or ask for a credit card to verify your copy of their products. Go to AVG.com/support if you have a question.

We suggested the reader block the number on his phone, or use a free app like "TrueCaller" to block spam calls. Or, as we've said before, keep your phone on "do not disturb," making exceptions for friends and other contacts. We deal with spam calls by forwarding all landline calls to our cellphone, because the cellphone is better at blocking them. To do this, dial star-seven-two on the landline. Wait for a dial tone and press the 10 digit number where you'd like your calls to be forwarded. We got a new number for our landline that we give out to very few people.

INTERNUTS

MiltonFriedman.Hoover.org has the collected works of the Nobel-Prize winning economist, Milton Friedman. Put in a search term, and click on a result, which may include a TV appearance, a letter to the editor, a book or an article. Or browse the featured links. Friedman was a free-market advocate.

"10 Cleanest Cities in the World." Search on the phrase to get some interesting lists. Most lists include Copenhagen, Denmark. TheDiscoverer.com also likes Reykjavik, Iceland; Vancouver, British Columbia; Cape Town, South Africa; Portland, Ore.; Singapore; Adelaide, Australia; Luxembourg City; Zurich; and Calgary, Alberta. TheTravel.com lists clean and dirty cities and puts Paris at the top of the dirty.

COLLEGE LAPTOPS

Engadget.com recommends "ultraportable" laptops for students heading off to college.They weigh less than 3 pounds.

Even gamers, who normally use desktop computers, can get lightweight but super-powerful machines. To "future-proof" your Windows computer, get 16 gigabytes of RAM. Engadget suggests the Dell XPS 13, with a Dolby Vision high definition display or the Asus ZenBook 13. Both cost about $1,400. Or if you don't need Windows, try a Chromebook. Joy swears by our Acer Chromebook 14. It has only four gigabytes of RAM, which is nothing these days, but somehow manages to be as fast or faster than our much newer Windows machine. It costs $187 on Amazon. The reviews are 15% negative there, but we've never experienced any of the problems they mention.

SPY IN THE PACKAGE

Who would have thought that a package could spy on you? IBM researchers put it to the test.

According to PC Magazine, the researchers put spy devices in packages that were activated when in range of a company's Wi-Fi network and were able to sniff out a password.

The robotic spies cost less than $100 to make and were created from off-the-shelf components. They can be hidden in the bottom of the box or in a stuffed animal. Bottom line: Companies shouldn't assume packages are safe. "Treat your packages like you would treat a visitor," says an IBM researcher. "Would you let a visitor walk straight up to your chief financial officer's desk?"

SLEEP SOUNDS

Recently we raved about the SleepPhones made by AcousticSheep. These are soft cloth headbands that contain Bluetooth speakers, so you can listen to music, books or other sounds while you nod off to sleep. Now they've embarked on The Harmony Project app to find out which sounds work best.

The result is a wide-ranging list, including white noise, nature sounds and gentle music. To get these sounds, search for "The Harmony Project" in your phone's app store. It's free for Android and iPhone and works with any headphones. You can skip a sound if it does nothing for you, but that tends to wake us up, so we'd rather let it roll.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

Business on 08/24/2019

Print Headline: Treat unsolicited call from anti-virus firm as hacker ruse

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