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

Tax Day Isn’t Relax Day: New Post-Filing Ploys Emerge

The end of tax season doesn’t mean an end to tax scams; rather, a new wave starts with the deadline for filing tax returns (typically April 15 but this year extended three days so Emancipation Day can be celebrated today). Now come the emails, phone calls and text messages supposedly from the IRS or other tax collectors that usually tout refunds, warn of audits or incomplete filings, or seek to verify personal information. Most phish for identity theft intel, but …

What to Shred and When

April showers? With spring cleaning and the end of tax-filing season, what really “reigns” this month are free shredding events held across the country — including dozens hosted by our Fraud Watch Network and AARP Foundation — to safely destroy unneeded paperwork that could help crooks steal your identity. Granted, shredding shouldn’t be your sole defense. ID theft is more likely to result from data breaches, computer malware, a lost or stolen wallet and other devious methods, including thieves buying sensitive …

America’s Top Consumer Complaint Is Doubled Among Military Members

It’s bad enough that everyday citizens file more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about sleazy debt collectors than about any other consumer scam. Now, another government watchdog agency reports that military personnel are especially popular targets of collector abuse — often for debts they don’t owe. In an annual report from its Office of Servicemember Affairs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that active military personnel submit debt collector complaints at twice the rate of civilians. Ways to save, …

How Gender Affects Online Shopping Scams

Who shops online? Roughly 72 percent of women and 68 percent of men make regular purchases with computers and smartphones, according to industry data. Who gets duped more often in online shopping scams? Depends on your definition. New data suggest that women are more actively and specifically targeted by cyber crooks for online shopping fraud and, likely because of this, fall victim six times more often than men. But when men get scammed, they lose about three times more money, …

Scam Defense During Spring Travel

This spring break will set a record for air travel during March and April, industry experts say. On the ground, expect the same old scams. Heading to Beijing? “The most common scam involves people persuading you to go with them for a tea ceremony, which is often so pleasant that you don’t smell a rat until several hundred dollars appear on your credit-card bill,” reports travel.aarp.org, a useful resource for learning about all things travel (including scams). In India and …

Behind the Numbers: Consumers Report a New Top Gripe

Despite a 47 percent increase in complaints from the previous year, identity theft wasn’t the nation’s top consumer complaint in 2015 — for the first time in 16 years, according to an annual review by the Federal Trade Commission. That dubious distinction goes to abusive debt collectors, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But it’s no simple apples-to-apples comparison: With 897,655 complaints, debt collectors tallied 29 percent of all reports “due in large part to a …