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

Are You Scam Savvy or an April Fool?

Next week, Hump Day is more than just Watchdog Wednesday. Being April Fools’ Day, when better not to be fooled by common scams of the season. Take this quiz to gauge your gotcha-avoidance know-how (answers at the bottom): 1. After you file your tax return, the IRS telephones, asking that you verify submitted personal information. How should you respond? a. Hang up. b. Provide the requested data. 2. Bathing-suit season beckons, and advertisements promise that a miracle supplement drops pounds fast — with …

AG After You? Don’t Buy This Lie

The latest mask worn by scamming debt collectors is a real slap in the face, given that the con artists pose as the very state agencies that go after them. At least three attorneys general offices (New York, Virginia and Missouri) have recently issued warnings about being spoofed. Impersonating the attorney general or reps of that official, crooks threaten consumers with arrest unless a supposed debt is immediately paid. That’s the same bogus line used in ongoing schemes by impostor collectors …

FTC: $1.7 Billion Lost to Fraudsters in 2014 — ID Theft Top Complaint … Again

Consumers reported losing $1.7 billion to scams and frauds in 2014, according to an annual review released by the Federal Trade Commission. That figure is likely a fraction of actual losses, since many people never report their victimization. For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. That’s the same percentage as in 2013, but with more people reporting …

Customer Survey Scams: From Reward to Rip-Off

Giving your two cents in some telephone, text-message or online “customer satisfaction” surveys can come at a steep cost: an endless barrage of more phone calls, pop-up messages and spam; malware to compromise your smartphone or computer or to steal sensitive files; or even identity theft. According to the Better Business Bureau, the latest survey scam making the rounds involves emails supposedly from leading retailers including Macy’s and Walgreens. In the scheme, you’re told you’ve been selected to complete a survey about a recent shopping …

10 Ways to Win in Sweepstakes Scams

Next week, Publishers Clearing House will choose one lucky person (and his or her designated beneficiary) to receive $5,000 a week for life. Meanwhile, PCH-posing scammers are picking their own “winners.” One man in North Carolina recently lost $13,000. A Michigan woman was bilked out of $7,000. And who knows how many others are too embarrassed to admit they did what no legitimate contest would ever request: send upfront payment to claim a supposed jackpot. Some are fooled after getting fake checks (allegedly “partial” …