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

New Make-A-Wish Scam a Triple Threat That Swindled $20 Million Last Time

A new scam feigning the Make-A-Wish Foundation goes beyond just being despicable for exploiting the respected name of a national charity helping children with life-threatening medical conditions. It combines a trio of the most successful types of schemes – sweepstakes scams, charity scams, and government imposter scams – increasingly used by telephoning fraudsters, and mimics a near-identical ruse seven years ago that bilked older Americans out of $20 million. Scammers posing as employees of the Federal Trade Commission or non-existent …

IRS: Identity Theft on Business Tax Returns Soaring

While tax-related identity theft against individual taxpayers is on the downswing, fraudsters have increased efforts on another front to obtain illicit refunds: Stealing identities of legitimate American companies to file bogus business tax returns. In the first five months of this year, the Internal Revenue Service flagged some 10,000 business returns for suspected tax-related identity theft – a 250 percent increase from the 4,000 cases in all of 2016 and 2,757 percent uptick from 350 suspected cases in 2015. The …

The Reign of Spain? Riskiest Vacation Destinations for Hacking Mobile Devices

If you’re heading overseas this popular vacation month, don’t underestimate the risks of your smartphone, tablet or other portable devices being hacked…even when visiting countries not typically associated with cybercrime. True, the U.S. leads all popular vacation destinations in overall mobile threats, where hacking of files and data on hand-held devices occurs about 5 million times per year, according to Keeper Security, a Chicago-based password manager firm. (Previous research by Symantec, which makes Norton antivirus products, indicates the riskiest American …

Don’t Get Burned by Solar Eclipse Scams

With sky-high anticipation over the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21, there are plenty of opportunities to get burned — visually and financially. According to NASA, the only safe way to watch it is with special solar-viewing glasses (also called eclipse glasses) or handheld filters. Available for as little as $2 each for paper-frame models that resemble movie theater 3-D glasses, these are not sunglasses but have lenses with specially designed filters to safely watch the first total eclipse from …

5 Ways to Spot Skimmer Scams Before You Use an ATM or Gas Pump

Skimming fraud has been around for more than a decade, and continues to evolve. Today’s skimmers – illegal card-reading devices placed on ATMs, gas pumps and other public-area machines that process debit cards – are stealthier and more sophisticated than ever. These devices “skim” information from the card’s magnetic strip as a nearby hidden camera, also placed by skimming scammers, records the PIN that you enter. Although you get your cash or can make a purchase – none the wiser …

Rigged Carnival Games: Are You Being Played When Playing Midway Classics?

Heading to a summer carnival or state fair? Don’t worry so much about looking foolish carrying an oversized stuffed teddy bear en route to that funnel cake feast. The bigger concern should be in feeling foolish after dropping a wad of cash trying to win that plushy prize, but winding up with empty hands and pockets. Although not every carnival game is rigged, all can be and many are – making those near impossible to win in hopes you keep …