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Frank Abagnale of “Catch Me If You Can” Offers Security Tips

Remember the film “Catch Me If You Can”—Leo DiCaprio played con man Frank Abagnale, who pretended to be a doctor, a lawyer and an airline co-pilot. Abagnale was eventually sent to prison, but went on to work for the FBI for decades as a security expert.

The master identity thief has a chilling warning for Americans—ID theft is easier than ever. And Abagnale places the blame squarely on us, saying that we make too much personal information available.

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Now a consultant, Abagnale spoke this week at a security conference in Minnesota. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he told attendees, “It is amazing the information we give away. We make it easier and easier for criminals…If on your Facebook page you happen to tell me where you were born and your birthdate, then I’m 98 percent of the way to stealing your identity.”

In addition to scrubbing your social media accounts for personally identifiable information, Abagnale recommends using a microcut shredder to dispose of documents. And make sure that your banking password is absolutely unique—if a retailer is hacked, your bank account could be the thief’s next stop. Put up an electronic roadblock for the criminal by using a different password.

Abagnale gave tips on creating passwords to Media Planet, “What works best is to think about a sentence, and then derive a password from it that contains alphanumeric and special characters. So, if you watched the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and liked it… you can derive a password like CatchMeWas10!!!, TomHanksMakes$$$, or IsntLeoTheMan.”

And here’s an interesting tidbit from this master security expert: he never uses a debit card. There are too many ways for ID thieves to swipe your PIN.

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