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

5 Tips for Charity Donations That Count, Not Con

With Americans donating at least $358 billion to charities last year, we certainly give with our hearts, but unfortunately, not so much with our heads, according to the latest AARP research. A survey of 800 adults by our Fraud Watch Network reveals that despite having the best intentions, the majority of wallet-opening donors continue to make key mistakes that add to their risk of being taken in a charity scam, along with other holiday hoaxes. Among the findings: 70 percent …

New FTC Rule: How NOT to Pay Telemarketers

The payment methods most favored by con artists because they are hard to trace — and which make it difficult for consumers to recover their money — will be prohibited for all telemarketers, thanks to new requirements by the Federal Trade Commission aimed at curbing financial losses suffered by scam victims. Simple ways to save a buck, expert investment advice, scam alerts and much more! — AARP Money Newsletter » In amending its Telemarketing Sales Rule last week, as AARP and other …

Credit Cards: The Smartest Holiday Shopping Choice

En español | Sure, buying holiday gifts with cash or debit cards avoids interest charges and forces you to stay within a budget to prevent overspending. Occasionally, cash purchases may even qualify you for a discount when merchants can avoid paying transaction “swipe” fees. So why should you still pay with credit cards for gifts this season – and for other transactions? Here are three ways that credit cards are the most protective payment choice: 1. Limited Losses. Under federal law, …

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 …