1 in 4 Didn’t Notice ID Theft for at Least 2 Years. Would You?

Identity theft is fast-moving. Are you asleep at the wheel? The sooner ID theft is discovered, the easier it is to repair the damage. And yet, one in four did not know they were victims until at least two years later, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. That’s more than enough time to destroy your financial life  and start a new one on your dime. Sixteen percent of 201 people from 39 states who contacted the ITRC in 2013 didn’t …

Beware of Free Pizza (and Other No-Cost Cons)

You’ve heard it before: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Yet in recent weeks cybercrooks have tested that claim, with impressive success, in a new email campaign that promises a coupon for a free pizza allegedly sent by Pizza Hut. Don’t bite. It’s the latest false freebie trick to install malware — in this case by clicking on a link to supposedly access a coupon for a free pie in celebration of the chain’s 55th anniversary. (It’s actually 58 years old.) What’s …

Stand Guard Against Veterans Scams

As we honor our former military personnel, Veterans Day is also a good time to recognize the year-round attempts to defraud them and to take advantage of those who appreciate their sacrifice and service. In some scams, veterans are specifically targeted. In others, fraudsters impersonate active-duty or former soldiers or claim to be working on their behalf to con patriotic civilians. A rundown of common schemes: Charity scams: Bogus charities that claim to benefit veterans are also among the most successful schemes, …

10 Dumbest Things to Do Online

Trying to get scammed? Engage in these stupid but common online practices and the smart money is that you likely will. 1. Falling for emotional bait. Online and otherwise, scammers line their pockets on your emotions — greed, fear, curiosity — and often fuel each with “Act Now!” urgency. Offers of easy money and threats of negative consequences phish for your money and/or personal information. Promises of forbidden photos or links, especially with terse “Check this out!” messages, are used to install …

Is a Credit Freeze for You?

To freeze or not to freeze? It’s a common question, particularly after reports of yet another breach of payment card data like those at Home Depot, Kmart and Dairy Queen. The answer: Probably yes — but not because of those kinds of breaches. Certainly a credit freeze (also known as a security freeze) is a great way to proactively prevent identity theft and is advised for past victims of this crime who are likely to be targeted again. But it’s not foolproof and, …

Staying a Step Ahead of the Bad Guys

By Doug Shadel, AARP Washington state director An identity thief with just a few bits of information about you can max out your credit cards, raid your bank account, even mortgage your house. In this digital age, a criminal can literally become you financially and take over your life. Alice Lipsky (not her real name) did this all the time. Using both high-tech computer skills and low-tech methods like car prowls and stealing purses, she took on the identities of …