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

Protect Your SSN, and Be Thankful It’s Not 078-05-1120

Seventy-nine years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, birthing that most important government program and, as a result, a coveted prize of identity thieves: your Social Security number. You know why you need to guard your SSN like an amped-up Rottweiler: In the wrong hands, it’s the quickest and arguably most common way for an ID thief to pose as you to open credit accounts and get medical care, your tax refund, even a job. …

How to Avoid Robocall Scams

At least one of every five phone calls now made is a robocall, and many are the work of scammers. You may hate these automated annoyances, but scammers love them: They’re cheap, far-reaching and hard to trace. No surprise that the Federal Trade Commission receives some 200,000 complaints about these calls each month. Here’s what you need to know: 1. If they’re selling, assume they’re scamming. Fraudsters may tout “free” in their recorded messages, but ask yourself this: Since when …

Another AARP Spoofing Scam Surfaces

Robocalls continue to falsely claim that AARP is providing “free” medical alert devices (I got one just yesterday, with a displayed caller ID number belonging to a local swim club), and now there’s a new ruse faking the AARP name. This time, live representatives claim to be calling on behalf of “AARP Member Advantages,” asking you to “verify” personal information based on the lie that it’s a requirement of the U.S. government if you want to continue participating in AARP-related services …

E-ZPass to ID Theft?

Perfectly timed to the busy travel season, scammers are behind phony emails supposedly sent by the “E-ZPass Service Center” or “E-ZPass Collection Agency.” So beware. Whether or not you have an E-ZPass account, the bogus message may make its way into your inbox, prompting you to click a link.   Don’t take the bait. Not only will you be asked to provide sensitive personal and financial information, but clicking that link may also install malware onto your computer that could …

Tax Scammers Up Ante With Robocalls

In the four months since it made history as “the largest scam of its kind,” a now infamous IRS imposter telephone scam has escalated with a recent new spin. As fraudsters continue to pose as agents with that agency or the U.S. Treasury Department in “live” calls that threaten arrest or deportation, along with the seizure of property, businesses and driver’s licenses, they’ve recently upped the ante to now also incorporate robocalls in this widespread ruse. Either way, the story is …