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

Online Banking – Convenient Boon Often Ignored by Boomers

More than 80 percent of American adults now use computers or smartphones to do their banking – nearly one-third more than just two years ago. But many seniors continue to sit out of this growing trend. True, a slight majority of those 65 and older don’t have home internet service. But millions who do still choose to remain old-school over online when it comes to banking, and only one in five retirement-aged smartphone users ever do mobile banking. Why? Studies …

Expect More Scams This Medicare Open Enrollment

Beginning on Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7, Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans has always been prime time for fraudsters to steal money and identity theft-worthy information from beneficiaries. But this year, scammers with a nose for news may sniff out even more unscrupulous opportunities than usual. Reasons: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced it will begin mailing out new cards in April 2018 to replace those with the recipient’s …

4 Surging Facebook Scams You Need to Avoid

These days, it may be wiser to use the phone rather than Facebook to communicate with your friends. That’s because of a fast-growing scam on Facebook Messenger that uses your friends to hack your account — and devices. Here’s how it works: You get a Facebook Messenger chat that appears to be from someone you know. In the most common campaign, the message will include your name, the word “video” and an emoji followed by a link — typically a …

Why Kids Are So Vulnerable to Identity Theft, and How to Protect Yours

Kids will be kids: Blabbing on social media. Eagerly completing prize-promising online surveys that ask for birth dates and other personal information. Downloading “free” online games and videos that may harbor malware. And through it all, using weak passwords such as pet names, school mascots and names of best friends that could double as security questions. Meanwhile, the system remains the system: Requesting, but not legally required, to have a child’s Social Security number on forms for doctor appointments, weekend …

Get Wise to These Common (and Costly) Student Aid Scams

In this new school year, parents of high schoolers face an age-old problem: how to pay for college. Considering that the bulk of available student aid is in the form of loans — currently, more than $1.3 trillion in sometimes crushing student debt is owed by 44 million U.S. borrowers — many turn a hopeful eye to snagging scholarships and grants that don’t have to be repaid … only to get blindsided. Each year, some 350,000 students and tab-footing parents …

New Rules for Password Protection

For more than a decade, we’ve been told to use “strong” passwords that combine upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Not only must passwords be long and complex, the mantra went, but a different password was needed for each online account – changed to another unique (and mind-numbing) letters/numbers/symbols combination every 90 days or so. Now, the man who originally developed those password rules in 2003 as official guidance for government employees says you should forget all that. …