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

10 Tips for Even Safer Online Banking

About half of Americans now use computers or smartphones as their primary banking method. Online banking with PCs or Macs still reigns supreme as “most preferred” by one-third of customers, but mobile banking has increased fourfold since 2010. Either method is safer than mailed statements. But with their geo-location capabilities, secure banking apps and other advances in mobile software, smartphones may have the security edge over traditional computers. Here’s how to make mobile and old-school online banking even more secure. …

Study: Apps ‘Hijacking’ 12 Million Smartphones

Some 12 million smartphones have mobile apps that secretly run a barrage of hidden advertisements in the background — roughly 700 per hour — that gobble up to 2GB of data per day and shorten battery life in its host device. Advertisers lose even more: an estimated $1 billion this year in bogus commissions paid to fraudsters for simulated clicks of those ads in “what they believe to be real consumers viewing their ads,” says David Sendroff of Forensiq, an …

Back to School? Parents, Be on Guard for Student ID Theft

With the kids returning to school, you’ve earned a sigh of relief. But don’t breathe too easy just yet. From elementary through high school, students are 51 times more likely than their parents to be victims of identity theft. College students are ideal (and common) targets — and when hit, they lose more money and take longer to discover their identity theft than any other age group. And with forms, dorms and other threats, a new school year is especially …

10 Tips to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi

When you access the Internet at any of the world’s 6 million public Wi-Fi hot spots — at airports, parks, businesses, hotels, wherever — assume that anything you are sending or receiving is up for grabs: your emails, photos, files, passwords, credit card numbers. According to some estimates, up to 95 percent of public hot spots are insecure because their wireless networks do not encrypt users’ Web traffic. Without encryption, which scrambles data so it’s not accessible to others, eavesdroppers …

Watch Your Wi-Fi! Most Devout Users Are Clueless About Risks, AARP Finds

Although some 84 percent of American adults who use the Internet access it on a daily basis, new AARP research finds that many continue to engage in risky online behaviors — especially at free Wi-Fi hot spots that are potential hotbeds for computer hacking. While a quarter of the 800 adults surveyed for the new report said they use free public Wi-Fi at least weekly, most are clueless about the potential risks. And nearly half of the respondents flunked a …

Airline Ticket Scams Take Flight on Facebook

Airline ticket scams are flying high once again. In recent weeks scammer-run campaigns on Facebook have spoofed several airlines – including JetBlue, Virgin, United and Delta – in promising free flights (and with Delta, merchandise and cash prizes, too). Don’t be fooled. The airline “names” change frequently; Southwest and Australian-based Qantas were imitated four months ago in similar schemes, and most of the current victims have been falsely implicated in past “free ticket” scams. In other words, by next week …