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

8 Scams That Take Aim at Veterans

En español  | Just in time for Veterans Day, there’s a despicable new addition to a long list of scams that target veterans and their families. Scammers are calling widows of military veterans, saying the deceased had a hefty life insurance policy but payments are in arrears — and a few thousand dollars will bring the life insurance policy up to date. Whether you’re an active-duty member or a military veteran, a family member or an everyday civilian who appreciates …

More ATM Trouble: Scammer Innovations Boost Risk

On the heels of findings that skimming attacks recently hit a 20-year high comes even more risk at ATMs, thanks to innovations by evil-genius crooks. The first whammy: a new breed of wafer-thin card-reading “insert skimmers” placed directly into the mouth of ATMs, making them harder to detect than old-school, sometimes obtrusive devices planted on the front or back of the slot. One type, found in Mexico, reads data on newer, more secure chip-enabled cards. It’s called a shimmer because …

Latest Spin on the Infamous IRS Impostor Scam

From the start, this was no typical scam. Unlike previous IRS impostors, the fraudsters behind these phone calls weren’t just randomly trolling for personal information for identity theft. These crooks already had some of it, including the last four digits of the Social Security numbers of those they called. That data, along the display of an IRS toll-free number on recipients’ caller ID, made their demands for money more convincing — and frightening. Pay those back taxes immediately, they warned, or …

Safer Medicare Cards in Future Prompt Vulnerability Now

Medicare open enrollment runs each year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, providing a special window of opportunity for various scams. But none is as widespread and successful as this one: Posing as employees from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or other government agencies, fraudsters claim in phone calls or unexpected home visits that new cards are being issued and that, for you to continue to receive your benefits, the agency must “verify” or “update” identifying information. …

Cyber Aware? Know the Top Internet Scams

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and no doubt you’re fully aware of what happened to Target, Home Depot and scores of other companies that were victims of cyber attacks. Those big-brand data breaches certainly make news. But what really hits home? The cyber scams that don’t generate headlines yet result in the most reports and complaints to the National Consumers League and other watchdog groups. So along with the often-preached mantras that warrant repeating this month — use …

Blocking Unwanted Phone Calls

Nuisance calls are the top complaint to the Federal Trade Commission and many state attorney general offices. How can you block them, beyond listing your number on the Do Not Call registry, which is ignored by scammers making live and automated calls? VoIP Landlines Nomorobo is a free service that intercepts calls after the first ring and blocks those on its vast FTC-assisted blacklist (quickly approaching 1 million numbers, with 200 added daily). If it’s legitimate, the call goes through …