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

Top Scams of 2015

As 2015 closes, it’s the same old story: another 750 documented data breaches — roughly the same as in 2014, but this year involving records of at least 178 million Americans (up from 160 million). And, of course, scammers are working the phones as usual. “No matter the call — and our clientele is still inundated with telemarketing calls — the way people are targeted for scams is the same … with intimidation, fear and/or immediacy,” notes Amy Nofziger of …

‘Recruited’ on LinkedIn? Beware the Latest Job Scam

En español | Job websites are often used to pitch work that doesn’t work out. Posing as legitimate employers, scammers post ads for nonexistent positions — and usually include at least one of the typical tip-offs to a job scam. Most often it’s requiring upfront fees for supposed background or credit checks, training or supplies. After paying, applicants are told they didn’t get the job — if they hear anything at all. Fraudsters seek your birth date, Social Security number …

New Twist to the Tech Support Scam

After seven long years, the tech support scam continues as a reigning rip-off, generating more reports nationwide to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline (877-908-3360) than any scheme except the IRS impostor ruse. Microsoft estimates that another 3.3 million Americans will fall victim in 2015, losing an estimated $1.5 billion to fraudsters posing as its or other tech company employees. The typical scenario is scary enough: Callers (sometimes from overseas boiler rooms) claim that your computer is infected with a dangerous …

5 Tips for Charity Donations That Count, Not Con

With Americans donating at least $358 billion to charities last year, we certainly give with our hearts, but unfortunately, not so much with our heads, according to the latest AARP research. A survey of 800 adults by our Fraud Watch Network reveals that despite having the best intentions, the majority of wallet-opening donors continue to make key mistakes that add to their risk of being taken in a charity scam, along with other holiday hoaxes. Among the findings: 70 percent …

New FTC Rule: How NOT to Pay Telemarketers

The payment methods most favored by con artists because they are hard to trace — and which make it difficult for consumers to recover their money — will be prohibited for all telemarketers, thanks to new requirements by the Federal Trade Commission aimed at curbing financial losses suffered by scam victims. Simple ways to save a buck, expert investment advice, scam alerts and much more! — AARP Money Newsletter » In amending its Telemarketing Sales Rule last week, as AARP and other …

Credit Cards: The Smartest Holiday Shopping Choice

En español | Sure, buying holiday gifts with cash or debit cards avoids interest charges and forces you to stay within a budget to prevent overspending. Occasionally, cash purchases may even qualify you for a discount when merchants can avoid paying transaction “swipe” fees. So why should you still pay with credit cards for gifts this season – and for other transactions? Here are three ways that credit cards are the most protective payment choice: 1. Limited Losses. Under federal law, …