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

Top Scams of 2016

Chalk up 2016 as another year of role-playing rip-offs: Fake IRS agents threatening arrest or deportation unless immediate payment is made for supposed back taxes. Fake grandchildren claiming trouble while overseas and in need of their loved ones’ financial help. Fake warnings of dire consequences for supposedly missing jury duty, avoided only by paying a fine and providing personal information for likely identity theft. Continuing a three-year trend, the IRS impostor scam was again the ruse most reported in 2016 …

The 8 Easiest (and No-Cost) Steps for a Scam-Free 2017

Identity theft is hard, but preventing it doesn’t have to be. Although some threats like data breaches are beyond your control, here are eight easy, no-cost ways to help scam-proof yourself in the New Year. Weed your wallet. Nearly half of all known-cause cases of identity theft start with a lost or stolen wallet. Reduce risk with some 2017 billfold cleaning by removing your Social Security card, cheat sheets noting PINs or passwords for bank cards or online accounts, blank …

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Gift-Giving Gotchas

Still haven’t checked off everyone on your holiday Nice List? Naughty you! Whether you’re a bona fide procrastinator who still can’t decide (tick-tock), enjoy the thrill of that 11th-hour gift hunt, or are just in dire need of a calendar, beware of this season’s Grinchiest gotchas. Facebook gift exchanges. Buy one item and get up to 36 for free? It sounds like Secret Santa Shangri-la for Johnny-come-latelies and BOGO fans, but these Facebook-viral come-ons are scams. This season, the biggies …

Top 4 Gift-Card Scams to Avoid This Holiday Season and Beyond

As the most popular holiday gift, gift cards — millions of them — will be exchanged this season. Unfortunately, though, they often wind up in the hands of scammers. Because they provide an easy and virtually untraceable payoff, and consumers have heeded well-publicized warnings about the risks of sending payments by wire transfers and prepaid debit cards, gift cards have become the preferred payment method among fraudsters. Among the reigning gift-card scams: Payment ploys. Whether the claim is that you …

The Real Fallout From Fake News

En español |  When fake news isn’t fueling what some considered tip-the-scales influence on a presidential choice, the primary purpose of shocking headlines and bogus reports is to make money for some while scamming others. Politics aside, most fake news and fake news websites exist to make money from advertising: The more clicks of that page, the higher commission received from views of surrounding display ads. Outrageous claims attract eyeballs, helping to pad pockets. Ways to save, expert investment advice, …

New Amazon Phishing Scam: ‘Confirm Your Information’ to Process Order

A convincing new phishing scam threatens Amazon shoppers just as the online behemoth announced it will offer Black Friday–type bargains as often as every five minutes all the way through Dec. 22. These bogus emails (below), purportedly sent by Amazon and already rampant in the United Kingdom and Australia, have the subject line “Your Amazon.com order cannot be shipped.” Claiming there is a problem processing orders, the message says, “You will not be able to access your account or place orders with …