Q: When I tried to access my Vanguard account a few weeks ago I got a message that I had to call a phone number  because my computer had been compromised. I was told that if I closed the message without responding the warning would not be addressed (or something to that effect). I did not respond and I continued to access my Vanguard account.

Yesterday when I tried to access my Vanguard account again I got the same message. I assumed it was from Apple so I responded. I was connected to Remote Net Care and they got into my computer and showed me how I had been hacked from several foreign countries and those hackers now have all of my information. I was charged $1,699.99 for enrolling in their security system on a permanent basis.

After I had time to think about what had transpired I had doubts that this was from Apple. They said they would call me today and when they did I asked them several questions and they said they were Apple certified but are a separate company. They said I could cancel at any time.

What is your assessment of this company? I am a Comcast customer and I was told by Comcast that their services include security from Norton. Do I need other kinds of security and if so, which company for which service?

— Crista Burington

A: I have reached out to Remote Net Care to ask for documentation of their relationship with Apple and have not yet heard back. I’ll let you know as soon as I do. In the meantime, I haven’t been able to find any indication that they are scamming you.

That said, you’re right to be very suspicious of any pop-up message advising you to call a number. My advice is not to respond to any such message unless it’s coming from a program you know you have intentionally installed.


I’m glad to hear that you have antivirus software installed. But antivirus software wouldn’t necessarily pick up malware that pops up messages luring you into a scam. Norton Security Suite, which is free to Comcast customers, does provide some protections against that for users of the most popular browsers.

The bottom line: Distrust popup messages – especially those warning of dire threats and asking for money to protect you from them – unless you can confirm that they are coming from a legitimate source.

Q: Are there any new laptops which have built in at least two USB ports, an HDMI port and an Ethernet port and still have the DVD tray ? I can’t find any. I don’t need thin or light — I need to connect without relying on WiFi or carrying dongles and adapters. And I didn’t want to buy a docking station.

— T.

A: Actually, I’m not aware of any notebooks that fit that description. As far as I can tell, all the manufacturers opted to eliminate the DVD drive to trim down the footprint and weight.

But you can do what I did: Get a DVD drive that connects via USB. It’s there when you want it and not when you don’t.

You can certainly find a selection of laptops that offer HDMI and Ethernet ports – as well as the standard two USB ports – but if the laptop you want doesn’t, you can always resort to USB converters for those as well. I know you don’t want those adapters, but …


Q: I have had a Dell XPS 8920 desktop running Windows 10 for more than two years and I am having problems with the SD card slot. I load photos directly through the SD card slot, rather than using a cable from the camera to a USB slot.

However, within the past few days I have been getting an error message that says, “Please insert a disk into removable Disk (E:).” I thought at first it would go away after restarting the computer, but it has consistently shown up the past several days.

Any idea what’s going on? By the way, I have tried several different SD cards and I still have the same error message.

— Doug Woods, Anacortes

A: It sounds like you’ve got a hardware problem with that SD card port. The simplest workaround is to buy an SD card reader that plugs into the USB port. The cost is under $20 and the card readers support a variety of different card types.