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

The Cost of Health Freebies

Many freebies come at a cost. And with unsolicited offers for supposedly free medical supplies and services, it’s often identity theft. As your phone likely continues to ring with robocalls touting “free” medical alert systems — a scam that’s been going strong for more than a year (with some calls still lying about phony AARP ties and bogus coupons) — expect other equally dubious deals. Some offer “no-cost” medications and supplies for diabetes or other conditions. Others are even bolder, claiming that “doctor-ordered” …

How to (Really) Erase Data From Old Smartphones

Whether you’re eyeing the new iPhone 6 or another smartphone, to help prevent identity theft, you should remove all data stored on the device you’re trading, selling or recycling. >> 9 Nasty Things to Throw Away Today But it takes more than simply hitting delete or restoring your old phone to its factory settings. To prove it, the folks at antivirus software maker Avast recently bought 20 used Android smartphones on eBay. All purchased phones were supposedly clean of the sellers’ data, …

Making Your Risqué Photos Less Risky

With news that hackers last weekend managed to uncover and leak nude photographs that 101 celebrities had stored on their smartphones, you may be wondering about the online security of your own salacious selfies. Don’t laugh. Such intimate photos were exchanged on Valentine’s Day 2013 by one in four everyday folks between ages 45 and 54, according to a survey by Internet security firm McAfee. And just last month, staffers with antivirus software manufacturer Avast recovered some 1,000 nude photos from …

The Hidden Costs of Free Trials

Burn fat, grow hair, or remove wrinkles while you sleep. Earn thousands a day working from home. Learn about “secret” government grants that are yours for the asking. The promises are priceless – and so are the products, quite literally. Or so you’re told. But the common outcome of free trial offers: After providing your credit card for a small shipping and handling charge, your plastic may be bombarded with recurring charges that quickly add up. Reasons: It’s not uncommon …

3 Sneaky Schemes That Scammers ‘Bank’ On

Phone calls claim there’s a problem with your bank account or credit or debit card. Some allege you qualify for a lower-interest-rate credit card because you’ve been such a good customer. And the newest trick: telling businesses that their card-swiping machines aren’t working right and credit card transactions must be made by phone. But it’s scammers delivering such unexpected news – not legitimate financial institutions they profess to represent, which most recently include Bank of America, Barclays, and scores of …

Protect Your SSN, and Be Thankful It’s Not 078-05-1120

Seventy-nine years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, birthing that most important government program and, as a result, a coveted prize of identity thieves: your Social Security number. You know why you need to guard your SSN like an amped-up Rottweiler: In the wrong hands, it’s the quickest and arguably most common way for an ID thief to pose as you to open credit accounts and get medical care, your tax refund, even a job. …