Q. I received an email saying that my computer was infected with many forms of spyware and I needed to download a "free" locating device. Once it was through scanning it popped up with an unbelievable number of infections. After trying to remove them all it said I needed to purchase something. The spyware that was found on my computer is said to give anyone access to what I look at online, my emails, who I chat with, and even credit card numbers and other personal information like that. Should I purchase this spyware remover or should I just pass it off as a scam
crystal, charlotte nc 10/03/03
A. Crystal -- I’d pass on this offer. A good rule of thumb is not to respond to unsolicited e-mails. If you think you might have spyware, look at getting AdAware or SpyBot. Both are free and can be downloaded at www.download.com.
Andrew Shain 10/03/03
Q. I've seen commercials suggesting that one of the ways to protect against identity theft is to do a periodic check on your personal credit rating. What's the best way to do that? I'm leary of those web sites offering a free report.
Anonymous, Old Fort, NC 10/02/03
A. You can go staright to the credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax -- www.equifax.com or (800) 685-1111; Experian -- www.experian.com or (888) 397-3742; TransUnion -- www.transunion.com or (800) 916-8800.
Andrew Shain 10/02/03
Q. I am trying to clean my credit report. I know that after 7 years bad debt is cleared off of the report. Does the 7 year contdown start when the creditor is paid in full or when the a/c was closed? Does charge-offs clear after 7 years?
A. Charge-offs clear seven years after the "last activity" listed on your credit report, according to Equifax. The last activity was most likely the date when the creditor charged-off the final amount you owed them. One wrinkle: If your debt was sent to a collector, they can keep a record on your credit report for seven years from the date of when they agency first took over your debt, Equifax said.
Andrew Shain 10/01/03
Q. Bob ... Several years ago, I was the victim of credit fraud. The person who victimized me was an employee of the mortgage firm who gave me the loan on my home. The FBI became involved in the investigation, but in the end stated they could do nothing because there was no "video evidence" of this crime. What did law enforcement do before video surveillance was available?
Deb Jordan, Charlotte, North Carolina 9/30/03
A. Deb -- ID theft is a difficult crime for authorities to make arrests and win prosecutions. They have to prove a suspect was the one who registered for a credit card in your name at the store or was at the computer keyboard when ordering those goods from a Web site using your passwords or was the person who accessed customer information from a company database. Video is a good proof. Otherwise, they try to follow a paper trail along to catch ID thieves.
Andrew Shain 10/01/03
Q. Hi, I'm in the process of trying to find a job, and i've noticed that a lot of places are doing credit checks. How is this legal? and what does it have to do with getting a job? also, i do have bad credit because of being unemployed, do i have any recourse with getting a job with this credit problem? Lastly, is there any place that doesn't do a credit check? Thanks
stephen, charlotte, NC 8/02/04
A. Stephen, Credit checks have become a staple for some employers when hiring. They are legal. Some businesses check credit histories because jobs involve handling money and employers want to see how you handle yours. Others check your credit because they believe people with poor histories might not be reliable employees. Employers should tell you if your credit history is the reason why they didn't hire you. If you have poor credit, consider mentioning that up front and explain why. Some businesses might be willing to look past your poor credit if you're honest about it. Good luck with the job hunt.
Andrew Shain 8/02/04