Cheap Travel Fixes for Winter Doldrums

Groundhog Day has come and gone. Winter’s still here. You’re paying holiday bills. Here are a few inexpensive ideas to keep you going until spring. Host a travel movie night The best way to save money is to stay home. How do you indulge your wanderlust from your living room? Rent a movie that transports you somewhere else. Invite a few friends and enjoy dinner and wine inspired by the movie’s locale. Here are some of my favorites. Research your …

Personal Scams, Not Data Breaches, Are Real Cons of 2014

While some 750 documented data breaches and the hacking of 160 million personal and business and government payment records dominated the news in 2014, the prime calling cards of scammers trying to steal your hard-earned money were intimidation and fear. Here’s how the scams work: IRS Impostor Scam: In what officials had already called “the largest scam of its kind” in March, scammers continue to pose as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department in live and automated …

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 …

The Cost of Health Freebies

Many freebies come at a cost. And with unsolicited offers for supposedly free medical supplies and services, it’s often identity theft. As your phone likely continues to ring with robocalls touting “free” medical alert systems — a scam that’s been going strong for more than a year (with some calls still lying about phony AARP ties and bogus coupons) — expect other equally dubious deals. Some offer “no-cost” medications and supplies for diabetes or other conditions. Others are even bolder, claiming that “doctor-ordered” …

How to Avoid Robocall Scams

At least one of every five phone calls now made is a robocall, and many are the work of scammers. You may hate these automated annoyances, but scammers love them: They’re cheap, far-reaching and hard to trace. No surprise that the Federal Trade Commission receives some 200,000 complaints about these calls each month. Here’s what you need to know: 1. If they’re selling, assume they’re scamming. Fraudsters may tout “free” in their recorded messages, but ask yourself this: Since when …