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 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 …

Beware of These Last-Minute Tax Scams, Even if You Already Filed

As the April 18 filing deadline looms, a new wave of tax scams is heating up. Whether you’ve already filed your 2016 return — and especially if not — here’s how to protect yourself from these last-minute schemes currently making the rounds. Don’t trust “update” requests. One popular phishing ploy this time of year involves emails supposedly from tax software providers such as TurboTax or TaxAct. They request users to “update” their information. “These ruses generally urge taxpayers to give …

Fear by Phone: High Anxiety for You, High Profits for Scammers

The telephone is a scammer’s best weapon, used in 77 percent of money-netting schemes, according to the government’s latest scam-tracking data. The best ammo: fear, and here’s how it bangs best for the biggest bucks: “Official” intimidation. The most profitable and most played schemes have fraudsters posing from a government agency — Medicare, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, local police and, of course, the IRS. (Until it was busted last year, one India-based ring of IRS impostors was netting …

Why and How College Students Are Scammed

College students are ideal victims for identity theft, with clean or nonexistent credit histories ripe for exploitation … and often clueless about their risks and value to scammers. They are more likely to post birth dates and other personal nuggets on social media that can be pieced together by Facebook-trawling identity thieves, and to use public Wi-Fi for risky online shopping, banking and email. They’re also more apt to open links touting free music and games (that actually hide computer …

Spring Cleaning for Scam-Proofing

Spring cleaning shouldn’t end with a yard sale or Goodwill drop-off. Here are some seasonally appropriate sprucing tips to reduce your risk of identity theft and other fraud. Wallet. Clean it of what you shouldn’t be carrying. These include your Social Security card (unless you’re heading to an SSA office), cheat sheets with PINs or passwords for bank cards or online accounts, spare keys for your home or car, and blank checks. Unless you’re heading to a doctor or health …

FTC: Impostor Scams Surpass ID Theft (but Debt Collection Remains Top Complaint)

More Americans last year complained about scammers playing an identity — most often, that of an IRS or other government official — than stealing theirs. In its 2016 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, released last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said impostor scams surpassed identity theft for the first time, becoming the second most common category of consumer complaints. Debt collection remained the top consumer gripe, generating 859,090 complaints (28 percent of the total) — more than the combined …