Sid Kirchheimer, author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" and more than a dozen other books, covers consumer and health issues for AARP Media.

How to Spot Phishing Emails From ‘Trusted’ Businesses

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. But with the upcoming holiday shopping season — predicted to generate up to $682 billion in sales, including a record $107 billion in online purchases (14 percent higher than last year) — prepare for some of the …

Veterans: The Few, the Proud, the Scammed

This Veterans Day, there’s more reason to celebrate those who have served and sacrificed. In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently sued two companies accused of bilking hundreds of older veterans into buying high-commission annuities and other often unwise retirement investments. In New Jersey, authorities busted those behind a $24 million “bait-and-switch” scam that swindled thousands of college degree-seeking veterans out of their G.I. Bill tuition benefits. And across the country, federal authorities are now investigating what they consider to …

Why You Can’t Trust Phone Calls You Think You Should Trust

“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. The goal of scammers using this tried-and-true telephone trickery is to present a phone number that can be trusted, so recipients answer the phone. “Once you start talking,” …

How to Avoid Hotel ‘Resort Fee’ Rip-Offs

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 …

Online Banking – Convenient Boon Often Ignored by Boomers

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. True, about half of those 65 and older don’t have home internet service. But millions who do still choose to remain old-school over online when it comes to banking, and only 1 in 5 retirement-age smartphone users ever do mobile banking. Why? Studies find …

Expect More Scams This Medicare Open Enrollment

Beginning on Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7, Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans has always been prime time for fraudsters to steal money and identity theft-worthy information from beneficiaries. But this year, scammers with a nose for news may sniff out even more unscrupulous opportunities than usual. Reasons: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced it will begin mailing out new cards in April 2018 to replace those with the recipient’s …