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Beth Cox Report: January 2014

Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,

Welcome to the year 2014! My one resolution for the new year is to review more books (I'm still working on it). And don't forget, the months after Christmas are typically a time when we at the MBR receive fewer review submissions. So, I'd like to remind any authors/publishers reading this that your competition is significantly diminished, and right now is your optimal opportunity to receive a review assignment!

Even though I've been using the Internet since the early 1990's (when I could only access it on my college's monochromatic VAX machines, using archaic commands), I'm capable of terrible blunders. I have a confession of "skull-splitting stupidity" to make: a malware scam artist suckered me.

I was browsing a recent article on, a popular and reputable website dedicated to evaluating/debunking urban legends. Suddenly, up popped a second, full-sized browser window; it said that I had to update my internet browser, Firefox.

Now, this should have set off a red flag. Firefox does periodically need updates, but it shouldn't demand to do so in the middle of a browsing session - if it requires an update, it will usually insist on one when I first double-click on the Firefox desktop icon.

But, this popup webpage had Firefox's logo and typeface; it fooled me completely. I clicked its download button without thinking. An ominous window in Norton's yellow-and-black colors immediately appeared in the lower right corner of my computer!

[program file name]
[technical jargon]
Download cancelled
Recommended action: None

That's a hazy paraphrase of what it said. My Norton anti-virus program had blocked me from downloading some keylogger/virus/malware that could have wrecked havoc on my personal computer, or maybe even enabled a thief to steal my identity!

Norton/Symantec is one of the biggest and best known anti-virus software providers there is. They have fierce competition, of course, and their service costs money. But it's money well spent! Since they saved my computer (and possibly much more), I'm naming them the Link of the Month:

If there's a moral to be drawn from all this, it's that everyone on the Internet needs an up-to-date, reputable anti-virus program running at all times. I've had bad experiences trying to run more than one anti-virus program at the same time (sometimes they conflict with one another), though your mileage may vary.

There are some anti-virus programs that are cheaper than Norton, and even some free programs. But I strongly urge everyone reading this not to skimp on anti-virus protection; that's almost as bad as neglecting to maintain the brakes of your car!

Hopefully, neither you nor I will ever suffer disasters such as computer malware intrusion, identity theft, or a destroyed credit rating. But it's always best to take preventative measures, prepare for the worst, and learn everything you can to protect yourself. January's Review of the Month is a resource especially for people working through credit rating problems, but it should also be in every public library collection, and it should be required reading for any young adult starting out on their own:

Credit Repair, 11th edition
Robin Leonard, J.D. & Attorney Margaret Reiter
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413318869 $24.99

A good credit score can potentially save one thousands of dollars when buying a house, and knowing how to protect oneself against or respond to identity theft can literally be the difference between prosperity and poverty. Now in an updated eleventh edition, Credit Repair is a solid, thorough, user-friendly resource accessible to anyone and everyone concerned about their credit rating. No financial background is needed to understand the guidelines for assessing one's own debts, correcting errors that others may have made on one's credit report or credit score, negotiating with creditors, avoiding identity theft and scams, and building a credit history. Of particular importance are the twenty guidelines one should immediately follow after learning that one's identity has been stolen, including "apply for a new driver's license number, if necessary", "tell debt collectors who call about fraudulent charges that they were incurred as a result of identity theft and send a dispute letter", and "consider placing a security freeze on your report." "Service members qualify for an active duty alert... This alert is similar to the other fraud alerts, but stays in place for 12 months and excludes you from prescreened lists for two years. This alert also lets creditors know that you and your dependents qualify for certain legal protections available only to service members." Credit Repair is an absolute "must-have" for both personal and public library collections, worthy of the highest recommendation.

That's all for the January 2014 Beth Cox Report. Please be more careful than I was of what you download!

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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