13 Simple Steps to Protect Your Privacy

Simple steps can go a long way in protecting your privacy from prying eyes, including those belonging to on-the-lookout scammers. Here are some of the easiest and (usually) free safeguards to reduce your risk of scams, hacking and other dastardly deeds. Password-protect every device you own — smartphone, PC, laptop and tablet — with a PIN that isn’t among these commonly used and most-often hacked: 0000, 1111, 1212, 1234, 2580 (middle column of phone keypad) or 5555. Also avoid your …

Trouble From the Toy Box: Will That ‘Smart’ Holiday Gift for the Grandkids Be a Spy for Hackers?

If “smart toys” are on the holiday wish list of the children in your life, know this: The FBI warns that such interactive, internet-connected gifts could be compromised by cyber hackers, and it advises that security precautions be taken before playtime begins. Although the bureau doesn’t identity specific risky products, it says that “these toys typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities — including speech recognition and GPS options. These features could put the privacy …

How to Spot Phishing Emails From ‘Trusted’ Businesses

Year-round, all kinds of phishing attempts lurk in your inbox — from promises of massive wealth from self-described Nigerian princes (or their representatives) to threats of arrest or loss of benefits from supposed employees of government agencies that, in reality, never correspond via email. But with the upcoming holiday shopping season — predicted to generate up to $682 billion in sales, including a record $107 billion in online purchases (14 percent higher than last year) — prepare for some of the …

Veterans: The Few, the Proud, the Scammed

This Veterans Day, there’s more reason to celebrate those who have served and sacrificed. In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently sued two companies accused of bilking hundreds of older veterans into buying high-commission annuities and other often unwise retirement investments. In New Jersey, authorities busted those behind a $24 million “bait-and-switch” scam that swindled thousands of college degree-seeking veterans out of their G.I. Bill tuition benefits. And across the country, federal authorities are now investigating what they consider to …

Why You Can’t Trust Phone Calls You Think You Should Trust

“Call from 877-382-4357? Hang up,” warns the Federal Trade Commission. Seems that phone number — better known as 877-FTC-HELP, the agency’s go-to hotline to report scams — is another example in the never-ending plague of spoofing, the practice of deliberately displaying a false number (and sometimes name) on the recipient’s caller ID. The goal of scammers using this tried-and-true telephone trickery is to present a phone number that can be trusted, so recipients answer the phone. “Once you start talking,” …

Online Banking – Convenient Boon Often Ignored by Boomers

More than 80 percent of American adults now use computers or smartphones to do their banking — nearly one-third more than just two years ago. But many older people continue to sit out this growing trend. True, about half of those 65 and older don’t have home internet service. But millions who do still choose to remain old-school over online when it comes to banking, and only 1 in 5 retirement-age smartphone users ever do mobile banking. Why? Studies find …