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Frank Abagnale: Never do these 2 things because 'that's 98% of me stealing your identity'

Sara Dramer
Associate Producer

Your Facebook (FB) profile may have all the information a fraudster needs to steal your sensitive information.

“If you’re on Facebook, here’s the only things you have to remember — never tell anybody where you were born or your date of birth,” Frank Abagnale told Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round. “That's 98% of me stealing your identity. I only need to know those two pieces of information.”

Abagnale, a former con artist famously portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film “Catch Me If You Can,” is out with a new book aptly entitled “Scam Me If You Can: Simple Strategies to Outsmart Today’s Rip-off Artists.” In it, he highlights the tricks that today’s scammers and con artists are using to commit fraud.

In the book, Abagnale outlines five rules for how to protect yourself from today’s scammers:

  1. Protect your identity

    Tip: Put your guard up as soon as someone says you need to share your personal or financial information with them right now — stop and verify the person you’re dealing with.

  2. Secure your finances

    Tip: Do not trust someone who tells you they always beat the market or can guarantee a certain level of returns. An honest and qualified financial planner cannot guarantee investment results.

  3. Preserve your digital presence

    Tip: Do not keep all your personal information in the cloud or on one laptop. Keep printouts of important documents in a lockbox or upload files to an external hard drive.

  4. Safeguard your home and hearth

    Tip: If you do not recognize the number calling you, do not pick it up. If you do pick up the call be sure to remain tight lipped as the con caller may be recording the call, and saying nothing usually results in the caller hanging up.

  5. Shelter your heart

    Tip: Verify that the person you are speaking with on a dating app is real. Search online to confirm claims of location, employment, and photos.

One surprising thing Abagnale notes in his book is the uselessness of passwords. He says that passwords were originally created to help secure individual time spent on computers used by multiple people, not to protect personal information or high security needs.

“Passwords are for treehouses ... If you look at ransomware breaches, malware, [breaches] all come from passwords. So I’ve been a big advocator of eliminating passwords” Abagnale said. “I think you’re starting to see more and more companies, retailers, merchants, eliminating the need for passwords. So in the next two or three years, I don’t think we’ll be using passwords”.

Abagnale said scamming and fraud are “4,000 times easier than when I did it 50 years ago because I didn’t have all the technology that exists today, the forms of communication that exist today.”

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Sara Dramer is an associate producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @saradramer

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