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Frank Abagnale presents on “Stealing Your Life”

July 25th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Yesterday, former con man turned FBI consultant, speaker, author and inspiration for the famed movie Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale visited Fargo to present to an audience of about 1,000 people on how to protect themselves from fraud and scams.

Frank abagnale on stage

We were proud to host Abangale with the help and sponsorship of AARP North Dakota and their Fraud Watch Network.

Abagnale captivated the audience with his tales of travel, forgery and deception, and ultimately arrest, extradition and time in prison. Of course that has since turned into sharing his expert knowledge with businesses, government organizations and crowds.

Abagnale maintains he always knew he’d get caught, and today he uses his actions to excuse his prior actions by lecturing and writing on the subject. But the most important thing to him is to simply be a good husband and father.

So what did he share about fraud today with us?

With billions of U.S. dollars being lost in white collar crime and advancements in technology and ingenuity of thieves, Abagnale says it’s more important than ever for consumers and businesses to stay vigilant. Frankly, some of the stats are scary.

  • $200 billion has been lost due to Medicare fraud
  • There is a victim of identity theft every two seconds
  • Children are sought-after victims of identity theft because criminals can use their identity for long periods of time before the theft is detected or credit is checked. (He recommends the service LifeLock to monitor children’s social security number use.)
  • A projected $6 trillion will be lost from the world economy by 2020 due to cyber crime
  • There are 5,000 new phishing incidents every day

“Hackers do not cause breaches; people do!” Abagnale said. “Every breach happens because someone in a company or home does something they’re not supposed to, or doesn’t do something they were supposed to.”

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever for hackers to locate access points in your home or business and use social engineering to breach your information and start collecting. Never assume it can’t happen to you. Hackers wait for doors to open, and there are a lot of doors in the world today. But there are ways you can lessen your risk.

Catch some of these tricks he shared to outsmart scammers!

  • 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 (something that could pass as an ID photo)
  • Shred all papers that contain valuable information with a secure micro-cut shredder (not a straight-cut or cross-cut)
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service
  • Don’t write checks or use debit cards; credit is everything and is the most secure form of payment (this way the liability is on the credit card company and not your own money)
  • The longer you are on the line with a robocaller, the more information they’re collecting on you. Hang up and verify before telling them anything!
  • Don’t use public WiFi to look up or send your valuable information (no wiring money or inputting your Social Security number in waiting rooms!)

“Every scam has a red flag. Any time I ask you for money or data, that’s a red flag,” he said. Abagnale advised when you get one of these calls and question its legitimacy, hang up, look up the listed number for the organization and call them directly to verify the request.

“It’s up to you to keep your information private,” Abagnale urged. “You’ve got to be proactive, not reactive. No one else can protect you.”

It’s important for businesses to educate their employees on safety, set up protocols and minimize risk for the security of the entire company, too. “Education is the most important tool to fighting crime,” he said. ”

He also shared that there is an effort to eliminate the use of passwords in the future. One company called Trusona is leading the charge to switch the world over to cell phone verification at places like an ATM or even your own TV. After all, “passwords are for tree houses,” he said.

For more information and resources on fraud and protection, visit abagnale.com.

View more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Thanks to our local media who covered Abagnale’s visit as well:

Prairie Public: Frank Abagnale speaks to Fargo crowd on recognizing scams

WDAY: The man behind the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” visits Fargo

Check out these highlights from Twitter!

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