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

‘Found’ Money for a Fee? Beware of New Surge in Unclaimed Property Scams

A longtime scam is back with a vengeance: claims that state officials are holding money or property that belongs to you, and all you need to do is pay a fee to claim it. Actually, the first part could be true. You could be entitled to a slice of some $43 billion in “unclaimed property” that sits in state treasuries — money from forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, stock dividends, utility security deposits, even contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes. …

How to Efficiently Read a Privacy Policy

You may be concerned about your online privacy — and should be — but chances are you don’t read website privacy policies. Few people regularly do, and no surprise. The typical privacy policy is about 2,500 words, or roughly a 10-minute read, with enough legalese to make Perry Mason wince. Considering the typical American visits nearly 1,500 websites a year (each with a different privacy policy), it would take about 250 hours to completely read them all, Carnegie Mellon researchers …

8 Military-Themed Impostor Scams

As we remember our fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget a continuing battle facing others who served: military-themed impostor scams that prey on veterans, their families and everyday citizens who honor their sacrifice. Toll-free trickery. The latest con campaign against veterans: an impostor phone number that mimics that of the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which allows certain vets to use approved health care providers outside of the VA system. In this years-old ruse, scammers buy phone numbers …

What to Do if Your Tax Refund Is Missing or Stolen

Haven’t yet received your expected tax refund? It may be tangled in red tape — or already pocketed by a scammer, part of some $2 billion annually issued to crooks who file fraudulent returns to collect refunds under the identities of legitimate taxpayers. The IRS generally issues direct deposit refunds within 21 days after receiving your tax return. Paper checks can take up to six weeks. If your refund is still MIA after that, here’s what to do:   You …

Most Likely to Be Scammed? Not Seniors, but Millennials

Gray-haired folk have long held “most scammed” status, but it may be time to pass on that unfortunate legacy. While the retirement-aged are targeted most often, data increasingly shows that it’s millennials — our children and grandchildren ages 18 to 35 — who are most likely to lose money to fraudsters. Consider these recent findings: Phone scams. About 1 in 10 American adults fell victim to phone scams last year, losing an estimated $9.5 billion in total. Leading the pack …

Mother’s Day Scams: Top Tricks to Dupe You (and Mom)

To that most special woman in our lives we eagerly pay tribute on Mother’s Day. And for next Sunday’s tributes, we’ll pay a record-breaking $23.6 billion — a $2 billion uptick over last year and some $9 billion more than is spent on Father’s Day. The coming days are prime time for crooks to cash in on the mother of all spring celebrations. Beware of these common Mother’s Day cons (and expect a slight tweaking in similar scams for Dad’s …