11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. A pair of Willie Nelson’s braids is worth $37,000. (Learn more at NY Times) 2. A thin, million-mile-long cloud of solar material is suspended above the sun. (Learn more at NASA) 3. Some of London’s iconic red phone booths are becoming solar-powered charging stations for mobile devices. (Learn more at Gizmodo) >> 10 Best U.S. Train Trips to Take This Fall 4. Paul Revere, the rock star from the 1960s and ’70s who dressed in …

AARP Finds ID Theft Higher Than Believed, Simple Preventions Ignored

New research by the AARP Fraud Watch Network finds that identity theft may be occurring at twice the rate previously believed, and the reason may be simple: Many Americans continue to ignore simple, everyday, low-tech steps that have been proved to help protect their personal and financial information, such as locking mailboxes, removing ID theft-worthy items from unattended parked cars and regularly shredding sensitive documents before disposing of them. Many also fail to take other easy measures, including securing smartphones and regularly changing …

U.S. Bank Ordered to Refund $48 Million to Customers

U.S. Bank is the latest institution to come under fire from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for charging consumers for credit-monitoring services that they never received. The CFPB announced today that it ordered the Minnesota-based bank to refund about $48 million to more than 420,000 customers. The bank also must pay penalties totaling $9 million to the CFPB and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. According to regulators, for several years some consumers paid for credit monitoring that …

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 (Really) Erase Data From Old Smartphones

Whether you’re eyeing the new iPhone 6 or another smartphone, to help prevent identity theft, you should remove all data stored on the device you’re trading, selling or recycling. >> 9 Nasty Things to Throw Away Today But it takes more than simply hitting delete or restoring your old phone to its factory settings. To prove it, the folks at antivirus software maker Avast recently bought 20 used Android smartphones on eBay. All purchased phones were supposedly clean of the sellers’ data, …