Sid Kirchheimer

Sid Kirchheimer, author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" and more than a dozen other books, covers consumer and health issues for AARP Media.
stealing xmas gifts
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:  
Woman using smartphone and login internet banking for shopping online.
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.
Please sign the contract
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?
senior man grandfather holding piggy bank looking suspicious trying to protect his savings from being stolen
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:
Security sign in the hand of the engineer.
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.
Handsome man enjoying games and vr
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.
Credit card phishing
Year-round, all kinds of phishing attempts lurk in your inbox — from promises of massive wealth from self-described Nigerian princes (or their representatives) to threats of arrest or loss of benefits from supposed employees of government agencies that, in reality, never correspond via email.
Businessman covering the phone
“Call from 877-382-4357? Hang up,” warns the Federal Trade Commission. Seems that phone number — better known as 877-FTC-HELP, the agency’s go-to hotline to report scams — is another example in the never-ending plague of spoofing, the practice of deliberately displaying a false number (and sometimes name) on the recipient’s caller ID.
Entering the room
Although not new, hotel “resort fees” and surcharges are higher than ever — predicted to generate a record $2.7 billion this year — and now include previous freebies: parking, holding luggage, early cancellation or checkout, “restocking” of those already overpriced minibar snacks and beverages, and even the privilege of having (but not necessarily opening) a hotel room safe. Other charges include so-called resort fees for services and amenities offered by hotels, even when not used by individual guests: gyms, swimming pools, Wi-Fi, fax services, automatic gratuities for staff, and “complimentary” newspapers and coffee.
cyber crime fraud
More than 80 percent of American adults now use computers or smartphones to do their banking — nearly one-third more than just two years ago. But many older people continue to sit out this growing trend.
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