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

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 …

Most Likely to Be Scammed? Not Seniors, but Millennials

Gray-haired folk have long held “most scammed” status, but it may be time to pass on that unfortunate legacy. While the retirement-aged are targeted most often, data increasingly shows that it’s millennials — our children and grandchildren ages 18 to 35 — who are most likely to lose money to fraudsters. Consider these recent findings: Phone scams. About 1 in 10 American adults fell victim to phone scams last year, losing an estimated $9.5 billion in total. Leading the pack …

Mother’s Day Scams: Top Tricks to Dupe You (and Mom)

To that most special woman in our lives we eagerly pay tribute on Mother’s Day. And for next Sunday’s tributes, we’ll pay a record-breaking $23.6 billion — a $2 billion uptick over last year and some $9 billion more than is spent on Father’s Day. The coming days are prime time for crooks to cash in on the mother of all spring celebrations. Beware of these common Mother’s Day cons (and expect a slight tweaking in similar scams for Dad’s …

From Pop-Up Warnings to $9 Million Payout: Inside the Tech Support Scam

How do scammers reap more than $9.5 million with phony pop-up ads or blinking alerts warning of a crippling computer virus or security problems? Their scareware success usually starts with “malvertisements” (malicious online advertising intended to damage or disable computers), which are designed to trick their prey into believing the bogus bug and calling a designated “support line” for help. It usually ends with a victim-made call lasting 17 minutes and a request for an average $291 to supposedly “repair” …

Smart Moves to Hack-Proof Your ‘Smart Home’

With innovative and in vogue “smart home” devices, you can control your home’s lighting, temperature, sprinkler system, door locks, TV, even dinner … all with a smartphone app. Maybe that’s why these high-tech household helpers are already in millions of American homes — with predictions that by decade’s end, up to 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet, including those using a home Wi-Fi network. But these gizmos, part of the increasingly popular ‘internet of things’ technology designed to …

What to Know About the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam

Chances are, you’ve heard about the so-called Can You Hear Me? scam. For months, officials from local police to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have warned, via generous media coverage, about phone calls designed to get you to say yes, reportedly so scammers can make unauthorized charges to your credit card. This ongoing ploy gets its name from this usual scenario: Your phone rings, usually displaying a local phone number on caller ID to increase the odds you’ll answer. After …