Antispyware Program Becomes the Problem

Illustration: Harry Campbell
My PC became infected by a Trojan horse that produced constant pop-ups about spyware threats and offers to get rid of them with a $30 product called WinSpywareProtect, sold on a site of the same name. I bought it, in part because the site had PC World's Best Buy logo. But when a Web search revealed dozens of complaints about this software, I requested a refund. I am writing to you since your logo was apparently used fraudulently, and also to see if you can recommend a legitimate antispyware program that will remove this monster from my computer.

David Shluker, Far Rockaway, New York

OYS Responds: We are aware that WinSpywareProtect is using our logo without authorization, but since the company registered its domain anonymously, we have been unable to contact it. We're currently attempting to get WinSpywareProtect's Web hosting company to take the site down until our logo is removed.

We advised Shluker to use PC Tools' Spyware Doctor or Symantec's Norton AntiVirus to cleanse his PC, which he did. But he could have spared himself trouble by doing some online research before downloading WinSpywareProtect.

At PC World we stipulate that any vendor posting our Best Buy or other award logo must link it to the specific pertinent coverage on our site. So the presence of a nonclickable PC World logo on a third-party site (which is the case on WinSpywareProtect.com) should raise a red flag. (Some legitimate award winners, including Spyware Doctor, don't link their PC World logos properly either, however.)

Consider installing software such as the McAfee SiteAdvisor browser plug-in, which will warn you when you try to visit sites that have been reported as fraudulent. At a minimum, run search-engine queries for unfamiliar products; you may not only dig up dirt but also find useful reviews or other info.

Missing in Action

Reader Rocky Drown of San Diego enrolled at FullReleases.com, a site that claims to provide downloadable games, antivirus software, operating systems, and more. But while Drown was prepared to pay a $5 introductory fee for access to unlimited downloads, he was dismayed when FullReleases.com, through a company called Billingsvc.com, began drawing $30 a month from his bank account.

Complaints about FullReleases.com and Billingsvc.com are posted at Ripoff Report and Scam.com. Both companies have received unsatisfactory ratings from the Better Business Bureau as well, and McAfee SiteAdvisor flagged both as suspicious. Despite repeated attempts, we couldn't reach anyone at the companies; to stop the charges, Drown had to cancel his bank card.

Hot Fax-Machine Recall

Hewlett-Packard has issued a recall on its HP Fax 1010 and 1010xi units after receiving reports of overheating. No injuries have been reported, but the units have caused minor property damage, and HP says that consumers should disconnect the machines because they pose a fire hazard. To receive a rebate, customers should contact HP online or by phone (888/654-9296).

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