Tips from the World’s leading scam expert
In July, AARP North Dakota was fortunate to host leading fraud expert Frank Abagnale in Fargo. Abagnale was the inspiration for the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”
Between the ages of 16 and 21, he successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, a doctor and cashed millions in fraudulent checks. Today, Abagnale is an expert on the subject of identity theft, has written three books on the subject and served as a consultant to the FBI for more than 40 years.
Abagnale spoke to about 1,000 people in Fargo on how to protect themselves from fraud and scams, saying technology has made it much easier for fraudsters to successfully carry out their scams. That’s why people need to always be vigilant.
Abagnale says there are ways to lessen your risk of identity theft: • Never list your place or date of birth online. These are the two most important pieces of information scammers need to steal your identity.
• Do not post head-on shots of your face on social media. Those photos can easily be used by someone else to create a photo ID.
• Shred all papers that contain valuable information, even if it’s just your name and address. Use a micro-cut shredder, not a straightcut or cross-cut shredder.
• Sign up for a credit monitoring service.
• Don’t write checks or use debit cards. Checks and debit cards put you at risk because they both provide direct access to your bank account. Use only a credit card, which is the most secure form of payment. If your credit card is misused, the liability is with the credit card company.
• Do not provide any type of personal information to anyone who calls you. And do not engage in conversation with them. Just hang up. The longer you are on the line with them, the more of these types of calls you will receive.
• Do not use public WiFi to check bank accounts or look up or send any other valuable personal information. Abagnale also participated in a telephone town hall with thousands of North Dakotans the day he spoke in Fargo. You can listen to that conversation by visiting the AARP North Dakota website at www. aarp.org/nd.
As AARP’s Fraud Watch Network ambassador, Abagnale has a new weekly podcast, called The Perfect Scam, which you can find at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.