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

Wi-Fi Safety When Traveling

Any time you use a public Wi-Fi hot spot, you risk having your internet communications intercepted by a hacker. When you’re traveling and your brain is focused on R&R or business meetings, that vulnerability can increase, especially in unfamiliar locales. The two primary Wi-Fi hacks are a “man in the middle,” who positions himself between you and your Wi-Fi connection to track your online movements, and a hacker-developed fake hot spot, known as an “evil twin,” that mimics the name …

Is Your Home Security System a Rip-Off Recruiter?

Statistically, your home is most likely to be burglarized between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. during July or August. The typical intruder is male, about 25 years old, and looking for cash and easy-to-carry (and sell) items such as jewelry, laptops, guns, cameras and small electronics. He’s also watching out for evidence of a home security system. In addition, there are con artists looking for front yard warning signs and other indicators that boast protection. Home security scammers, also now …

Prize Lies: How to Spot a Sweepstakes Scam

True, you can’t win if you don’t play. But here’s how you certainly lose by entering a scam sweepstakes or lottery. • You’re instructed to pay a fee or buy something to enter, improve your chances of winning, or claim an already “won” prize. You will not only lose that money (what you purchase may be junk merchandise), but you will also likely face an onslaught of additional requests for supposed taxes, shipping and handling charges, or processing fees — …

Protect Yourself and Your Dog From Pet Scams

Pet scams may not fetch the publicity of other schemes, but they certainly continue with dogged persistence. As hundreds of businesses and thousands of pet parents celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day, check out these pet scams still in the works. Dognapping As the name implies, pets (usually dogs) are snatched from unattended backyards, cars or even while in the company of owners. Thieves then wait for a reward to claim for safely returning the pet, or they brazenly …

Students the Latest Target of IRS Scammers

College students and others who have student loans are the latest target of IRS impersonators. In this iteration of the ongoing, widespread scam, fraudsters threaten arrest and other penalties unless a nonexistent “federal student tax” is paid immediately. Sound familiar? For years, con artists posing as IRS agents have telephoned citizens, claiming they owe back taxes and making similar threats of impending arrest, deportation and seizure of property unless the alleged debt is paid immediately with untraceable prepaid debit cards …

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 …