Behind the Numbers: Consumers Report a New Top Gripe

Despite a 47 percent increase in complaints from the previous year, identity theft wasn’t the nation’s top consumer complaint in 2015 — for the first time in 16 years, according to an annual review by the Federal Trade Commission. That dubious distinction goes to abusive debt collectors, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But it’s no simple apples-to-apples comparison: With 897,655 complaints, debt collectors tallied 29 percent of all reports “due in large part to a …

Coupon Scams: Don’t Get Clipped

Maybe you saw that recent Facebook post promising a free $200 Nordstrom gift card. Or perhaps it was that $100 coupon for Lowe’s, which just resurfaced after a similar “campaign” last spring, or the latest coupon on social media, touting a free Disneyland vacation for four. Like umpteen others that come and go, each of these recent frauds was part of at least 300 billion fake coupon offers annually that aim to pinch those who are trying to pinch pennies. (Just …

Tax Email Scams Surge This Filing Season

Along with trying to scam the public in the nation’s reigning top ruse — phony phone calls threatening arrest, deportation or seizure of property unless immediate payment is made for alleged back taxes — IRS impostors are also breaking records on another fraudulent front this tax season. Bogus emails and text messages that phish for sensitive information or deliver computer malware have increased fourfold so far this year, reports the Internal Revenue Service. Designed to look like they’re from the …

We Hear You … and We Hope It Shows

How good does it feel to know you’ve been heard? How rare is that feeling? Gaining someone’s full attention, especially lately with electronic dialogue constantly competing for brain space, is all the more precious for being so scarce. What a shame. Being heard is really the point where conversation starts, and where the search for understanding and solutions begins. Listening to the people AARP serves has always been among our highest priorities: we are committed to hearing what you say …

Preventing Child ID Theft With a Credit Freeze

No matter where you live, a credit freeze is a great way for you to prevent identity theft — particularly the opening of new credit cards, loans and service accounts in your name. But depending on where you live, a freeze isn’t easy to get for your offspring. Although legislation has been introduced, currently there are no federal laws concerning credit freezes for children, and only 23 states have passed laws requiring credit reporting bureaus to freeze a minor’s credit …

Double Whammy: A Scam That Targets Victims of Scams

It’s bad enough being scammed out of your money once. But some older consumers are being conned a second time by so-called asset recovery companies promising to help recover the money lost in the initial fraud, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warns. The companies charge hundreds or thousands of dollars up front but offer services that victims could do on their own for free, the agency says. Ways to save, expert investment advice, scam alerts and more! — AARP …