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

Mother’s Day Scams: Top Tricks to Dupe You (and Mom)

To that most special woman in our lives we eagerly pay tribute on Mother’s Day. And for next Sunday’s tributes, we’ll pay a record-breaking $23.6 billion — a $2 billion uptick over last year and some $9 billion more than is spent on Father’s Day. The coming days are prime time for crooks to cash in on the mother of all spring celebrations. Beware of these common Mother’s Day cons (and expect a slight tweaking in similar scams for Dad’s …

From Pop-Up Warnings to $9 Million Payout: Inside the Tech Support Scam

How do scammers reap more than $9.5 million with phony pop-up ads or blinking alerts warning of a crippling computer virus or security problems? Their scareware success usually starts with “malvertisements” (malicious online advertising intended to damage or disable computers), which are designed to trick their prey into believing the bogus bug and calling a designated “support line” for help. It usually ends with a victim-made call lasting 17 minutes and a request for an average $291 to supposedly “repair” …

Smart Moves to Hack-Proof Your ‘Smart Home’

With innovative and in vogue “smart home” devices, you can control your home’s lighting, temperature, sprinkler system, door locks, TV, even dinner … all with a smartphone app. Maybe that’s why these high-tech household helpers are already in millions of American homes — with predictions that by decade’s end, up to 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet, including those using a home Wi-Fi network. But these gizmos, part of the increasingly popular ‘internet of things’ technology designed to …

What to Know About the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam

Chances are, you’ve heard about the so-called Can You Hear Me? scam. For months, officials from local police to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have warned, via generous media coverage, about phone calls designed to get you to say yes, reportedly so scammers can make unauthorized charges to your credit card. This ongoing ploy gets its name from this usual scenario: Your phone rings, usually displaying a local phone number on caller ID to increase the odds you’ll answer. After …

Beware of These Last-Minute Tax Scams, Even if You Already Filed

As the April 18 filing deadline looms, a new wave of tax scams is heating up. Whether you’ve already filed your 2016 return — and especially if not — here’s how to protect yourself from these last-minute schemes currently making the rounds. Don’t trust “update” requests. One popular phishing ploy this time of year involves emails supposedly from tax software providers such as TurboTax or TaxAct. They request users to “update” their information. “These ruses generally urge taxpayers to give …

Fear by Phone: High Anxiety for You, High Profits for Scammers

The telephone is a scammer’s best weapon, used in 77 percent of money-netting schemes, according to the government’s latest scam-tracking data. The best ammo: fear, and here’s how it bangs best for the biggest bucks: “Official” intimidation. The most profitable and most played schemes have fraudsters posing from a government agency — Medicare, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, local police and, of course, the IRS. (Until it was busted last year, one India-based ring of IRS impostors was netting …