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

Why Your Kids Are Vulnerable to Identity Theft

Concerned about identity theft? Be even more concerned for the young children in your life. From cradle to college, kids under 18 are 51 times as likely to be victims of identity theft than their parents, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab. This alarming statistic is based on a sampling of some 40,000 children — and 10 percent already had their Social Security numbers being used fraudulently. “There’s no process to double-check what name and birth date …

Let the (Home) Buyer Beware

Looking to buy or sell a home in the coming weeks (a period that’s expected to be the busiest real estate season in eight years)? If so, beware of a new impersonation scam that targets real estate agents and others involved in house closings — specifically, their clients. It starts with an email to real estate agents (supposedly sent by an interested buyer) that includes an attached link. When the recipient opens the link, malware secretly infects the individual’s computer, …

Hackers Guzzle Your Money via Starbucks Mobile App

Starbucks devotees, prepare for a jolt beyond what’s provided in those morning cappuccinos: Hackers are draining financial accounts of customers who use a Starbucks gift card or mobile app to pay for coffee. The (no latte pun intended) skinny on this scam: Thieves hack victims’ online Starbucks accounts, via the users’ weak and/or overused passwords or credential-stealing malware, to access linked payment accounts – credit and debit cards, PayPal and bank accounts. This allows them to add a new gift card, …

The Passcode to Hack Most Credit Card Readers

About 90 percent of checkout payment card readers, like those implicated in last year’s string of retailer data breaches, currently use the same password. Reason: The default setting hasn’t been changed – either by its manufacturer, middlemen vendors or retailer clients that purchase the devices. That’s the stunning conclusion after researchers from cybersecurity firm Trustware examined point-of-sale (POS) card readers at 120 retailers nationwide. “No one is changing the password when they set this up for the first time; everybody …