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

New Trends in Cyber Scams

According to the cyber security company, Symantec – known for their Norton and LifeLock products – cyber criminals reached “new levels of ambition” last year. Below are some key highlights of their 2017 Internet Security Threat Report. Email Deemed “the weapon of choice,” one in 131 emails sent in 2016 contained a malware-laden link or attachment – the highest rate in five years. Malicious email is “a proven attack channel,” reports Symantec. “It doesn’t rely on vulnerabilities, but instead uses …

What to Know About the Top Summer Scams

As temperatures rise, so do certain scams. Here’s how to avoid getting burned in summer’s most common cons. Home repairs Conning contractors typically come to your home unexpectedly, offering steep discounts on driveway resurfacing, roof work, tree trimming or other “necessary” repairs they happen to see while driving by or soliciting business door-to-door. Most seek an upfront payment to “go buy materials” and then disappear. Others do fast and faulty repairs (like spreading used motor oil to coat driveways) or …

‘Found’ Money for a Fee? Beware of New Surge in Unclaimed Property Scams

A longtime scam is back with a vengeance: claims that state officials are holding money or property that belongs to you, and all you need to do is pay a fee to claim it. Actually, the first part could be true. You could be entitled to a slice of some $43 billion in “unclaimed property” that sits in state treasuries — money from forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, stock dividends, utility security deposits, even contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes. …

How to Efficiently Read a Privacy Policy

You may be concerned about your online privacy — and should be — but chances are you don’t read website privacy policies. Few people regularly do, and no surprise. The typical privacy policy is about 2,500 words, or roughly a 10-minute read, with enough legalese to make Perry Mason wince. Considering the typical American visits nearly 1,500 websites a year (each with a different privacy policy), it would take about 250 hours to completely read them all, Carnegie Mellon researchers …

8 Military-Themed Impostor Scams

As we remember our fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget a continuing battle facing others who served: military-themed impostor scams that prey on veterans, their families and everyday citizens who honor their sacrifice. Toll-free trickery. The latest con campaign against veterans: an impostor phone number that mimics that of the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which allows certain vets to use approved health care providers outside of the VA system. In this years-old ruse, scammers buy phone numbers …

What to Do if Your Tax Refund Is Missing or Stolen

Haven’t yet received your expected tax refund? It may be tangled in red tape — or already pocketed by a scammer, part of some $2 billion annually issued to crooks who file fraudulent returns to collect refunds under the identities of legitimate taxpayers. The IRS generally issues direct deposit refunds within 21 days after receiving your tax return. Paper checks can take up to six weeks. If your refund is still MIA after that, here’s what to do:   You …