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AOL ADDS SAFETY FEATURES

America Online is packaging new features to combat viruses, spam and spyware in response to growing online security threats.

Subscribers will be able to get the free tools through a software download, known as AOL 9.0 Security Edition and available beginning today.

The new package includes: anti-virus software from McAfee Inc. with free, automated updates. Such protection through AOL previously cost $2.95 a month.

Spyware protection. Before, AOL's spyware scanner ran once a week. A new SpyZapper checks the computer's memory every time you sign on.

Junk mail controls. To control how much legitimate mail gets mistakenly trashed, the spam filter now offers high, medium and low settings. It also blocks unwanted instant messages.

Pop-up blocker. It now blocks rich media ads that float across the Web page.

Parental controls. Beginning in two weeks, parents will be able to limit with whom their kids can exchange instant messages.

To combat identity theft, AOL also partnered with the credit agency Experian to create a service in which subscribers are notified when their credit cards exceed a preset spending limit.

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