Protect Yourself From Post-Holiday Scams

The Christmas rush may be over, but don’t expect crooks to slow down. What to know about post-holiday hoaxes and ways to protect yourself well into 2018 and beyond:     Don’t let your curbside trash advertise expensive holiday presents. To prevent tipping off would-be burglars that your home has heist-worthy items, cut and place in a covered trash bin those boxes for big-screen televisions, video games and the like, or haul them yourself to a community dumpster or recycling station. …

Credit Scores and Identity Theft: How Each Impacts the Other

Your credit score is the one constant used to determine whether you’re approved for a loan – and to set interest and premium rates for credit cards, homeowners and auto insurance, even deposits for new utility service. But that three-digit score itself may frequently change. It’s typical for your score to fluctuate by a few points, based on spending and payment at any given time, information in your credit report (which is constantly being updated), even the passage of time. …

Wheeling and Dealing on a New Car? Beware of Dealership Stealing

Notice all those recent TV commercials touting a “December to Remember,” “Employee Pricing,” “Year-End Sales Event” and other proclaimed deals on a new set of wheels? That’s because it’s crunch time for dealerships to meet annual sales goals, just as winter weather and (other) holiday shopping can keep consumers off their lots. So now is when manufacturers and dealerships typically offer the year’s deepest discounts and most generous incentives, making December – and particularly its last two weeks – the …

Déjà Vu Deception: These Old Scams Resurface Again

Rerun rip-offs are nothing new; what’s previously worked for scammers will likely be successful again. And that holds especially true for these three longtime (and historically prosperous) ploys that have resurfaced with a vengeance: Jury Duty Scam Going strong for more than a decade, this telephone scheme has scammers posing as court employees or members of law enforcement ranging from local police to U.S. marshals. They say that you failed to appear for mandated jury duty, and as a result …

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 …