Sid Kirchheimer, author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" and more than a dozen other books, covers consumer and health issues for AARP Media.

Fall Fallout: It’s Time for Front-Door Fraud

Home may be where your heart is, but for scammers, it’s where the money is. They come knocking every autumn with these top perennial ploys: 1. Magazine sales. Consistently ranking among the top scams victimizing those over 60 (but targeting whoever answers the door), it goes like this: Fresh-faced teens sell overpriced magazine subscriptions for a fundraiser. Some fraudulently pose as students, others unknowingly work for scammer-run fronts trying to make a quick buck and/or collect credit card data for …

Dangerous Search Terms Beyond ‘Jimmy Kimmel’

Jimmy Kimmel got laughs last week after being named 2014’s Most Dangerous Cyber Celebrity. According to online security firm McAfee, one in five searches of Kimmel’s name landed Internet surfers on pages that “tested positive” for online malware threats. What’s no joke: Once again, cybercrooks have proved that people’s appetite for entertainment feeds their chances at hacking success. Why? “Celebrity names, coupled with the terms ‘video’ and ‘picture,’ are some of the most-searched terms on the Internet,” explains McAfee chief privacy officer Michelle …

AARP Finds ID Theft Higher Than Believed, Simple Preventions Ignored

New research by the AARP Fraud Watch Network finds that identity theft may be occurring at twice the rate previously believed, and the reason may be simple: Many Americans continue to ignore simple, everyday, low-tech steps that have been proved to help protect their personal and financial information, such as locking mailboxes, removing ID theft-worthy items from unattended parked cars and regularly shredding sensitive documents before disposing of them. Many also fail to take other easy measures, including securing smartphones and regularly changing …

The Cost of Health Freebies

Many freebies come at a cost. And with unsolicited offers for supposedly free medical supplies and services, it’s often identity theft. As your phone likely continues to ring with robocalls touting “free” medical alert systems — a scam that’s been going strong for more than a year (with some calls still lying about phony AARP ties and bogus coupons) — expect other equally dubious deals. Some offer “no-cost” medications and supplies for diabetes or other conditions. Others are even bolder, claiming that “doctor-ordered” …

How to (Really) Erase Data From Old Smartphones

Whether you’re eyeing the new iPhone 6 or another smartphone, to help prevent identity theft, you should remove all data stored on the device you’re trading, selling or recycling. >> 9 Nasty Things to Throw Away Today But it takes more than simply hitting delete or restoring your old phone to its factory settings. To prove it, the folks at antivirus software maker Avast recently bought 20 used Android smartphones on eBay. All purchased phones were supposedly clean of the sellers’ data, …