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

Coming Soon: IRS Private Debt Collectors — and Scammers, Too?

Combine the nation’s biggest scam, the most criticized profession and a new federal mandate issued to the IRS that’s buried in a highway funding bill and what’s the result? The potential for more top-shelf trickery — and, perhaps, a well-deserved “Whaaa?” As part of the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) signed into law last month by President Obama, the IRS is now required, versus permitted, to use private collectors to help recoup owed tax debt. See Section 32102 …

Scam-Proof 2016 With These 7 Simple Steps

Happy New Year! Start 2016 on the right foot, with these simple steps to reduce your risk of scams: Freeze your credit file. The best way to proactively prevent identity theft (as well as minimize damage after it occurs), a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. Without being able to review it, most creditors won’t issue loans, credit cards or other credit in your name – helpful when your personal data falls into the wrong hands, whether resulting from …

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 …