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

Reduce Fraud Fallout Before and After a Wallet Goes Missing

Along with death and taxes, there’s a third certainty of life: At some point, your wallet will go AWOL. Whether it’s just temporarily missing under a seat cushion or swiped by a thief and never returned, prepare now because a lost or stolen wallet often results in identity theft. First things first: Reduce your risk by removing these items from your wallet: Your Social Security card. Unless you’re heading to an SSA office, leave it somewhere safer than in a …

It’s Moving Season! 8 Tips to Prevent Relocation Rip-Offs

With two-thirds of relocations occurring between now and the end of August, summer is peak moving season — and prime time for a type of strong-arming that’s more about tricky tactics than the size of a hired hauler’s biceps. The scam starts with an initial reasonable (if not lowball) estimate by a mover, complete with “in good hands” assurances. But after the truck is loaded, the quoted price jumps sky-high, and your belongings may be held hostage until you pay …

How, Why and When to Get a Security Freeze

Placing a security freeze on your credit file has always been a smart move. But these days, it makes more sense than ever. That’s because identity thieves have switched tactics — focusing on opening new fraudulent credit accounts rather than exploiting existing ones. In its 2016 Identity Fraud Study, Javelin Strategy & Research reports that with the switch to chip-enabled cards, fraud involving new accounts more than doubled in 2015 from the previous year. Meanwhile, some 180 million personal records …

The Common Typo That Can Steal Your Computer

The latest ploy cybercrooks are using to spread ransomware and other types of computer malware to provide them with remote access to PCs and Macs or to steal log-in credentials: After buying domain names with a missing or misplaced letter in website addresses belonging to well-known companies, they simply wait for you to make a typo. The biggest threat results in the most common typos — either a misplaced or missing “c” (such as typing amazonc.om or amazon.om) so a …

Top Phishing Scams on Social Media

Phishing attempts on social media have more than doubled over the past year as scammers find new ways to trick people into providing personal and financial information. During the first quarter of 2016, ploys to glean log-in credentials, credit card and other ID-worthy information soared 150 percent over the same period in 2015, according to Proofpoint, which provides social media security services to leading companies and nearly 225 million of their individual followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and …

New Threats in Ransomware

Ransomware is on a rampage, seizing control of personal computers and institution-wide networks and encrypting files to make them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to release them. In just the first three months of 2016, reported attacks have increased tenfold over all of 2015, when the FBI received about 2,500 ransomware complaints about incidents that cost victims $24 million. And the $209 million paid to cybercrooks from January to March is likely only a fraction of actual losses, as …