Customer Survey Scams: From Reward to Rip-Off

Giving your two cents in some telephone, text-message or online “customer satisfaction” surveys can come at a steep cost: an endless barrage of more phone calls, pop-up messages and spam; malware to compromise your smartphone or computer or to steal sensitive files; or even identity theft. According to the Better Business Bureau, the latest survey scam making the rounds involves emails supposedly from leading retailers including Macy’s and Walgreens. In the scheme, you’re told you’ve been selected to complete a survey about a recent shopping …

Give Yourself the Gift of Time: Unsubscribe

Do you return to work from holidays and vacations to find dozens or hundreds of emails? I do, but I’m doing something about it: I’m unsubscribing from any email I don’t actually want or need. I figure once I’m done, I’ll have about 10 minutes a day back — about an hour a week for self-improvement or daydreaming. A few years ago, I was ready to give up on email altogether. Spammers made it nearly impossible to find the messages that …

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 …

E-ZPass to ID Theft?

Perfectly timed to the busy travel season, scammers are behind phony emails supposedly sent by the “E-ZPass Service Center” or “E-ZPass Collection Agency.” So beware. Whether or not you have an E-ZPass account, the bogus message may make its way into your inbox, prompting you to click a link.   Don’t take the bait. Not only will you be asked to provide sensitive personal and financial information, but clicking that link may also install malware onto your computer that could …

This Week in Boomer History: Kent State … ‘Hair’ … Spam … Amtrak

The Soviets bring down a CIA U-2 spy plane on May 1, 1960, intensifying the Cold War. Captured in Russia, pilot Francis Gary Powers is interrogated for more than a hundred days and imprisoned for nearly two years. The first Target discount store opens in Roseville, Minn., on May 1, 1962, growing into an enterprise that generates about $3 billion of net income in 2013. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius when the musical Hair opens on Broadway …

Medicare Spam Increases 10-Fold

During Medicare Open Enrollment,  which started Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7, there’s usually an uptick in online spam pitching supplemental plans. But this year, it’s gone epidemic — with a 10-fold increase compared to recent months in these always annoying and sometimes risky offers, reports messaging security firm Cloudmark. >> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter The reason may go beyond just the calendar: It looks like spammers are exploiting confusion over the Affordable Care Act – and how it …