ID theft prevention tips – from the subject of ‘Catch Me If You Can’

Frank Abagnale
Frank Abagnale Palm Beach Daily News

We accuse people of stealing identity information, but, on the other hand, we give them this information, said Frank Abagnale, the man who inspired Steven Spielberg’s 2002 American biographical crime film “Catch Me If You Can.”

Abagnale spoke Wednesday at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the 2015 Fraud and Forensic Investigations Conference presented by Pfeiffer University. A runaway teen who was involved in several juvenile crimes such as check fraud and identity theft, Abagnale was apprehended at age 21 in France. After serving time in prison, he was released on the condition that he work with and assist federal law enforcement agencies. Abagnale has been associated with the FBI for about four decades now.

Abagnale sat down with the Observer after his speech and broke down some key ways to protect against identity theft:

▪ Shred your information with a micro-cut shredder, which creates up to 12,000 confetti-size particles per sheet. If you use a micro-cut shredder, it’s impossible to put an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper back together. Other types of shredders, such as the straight shredder and the cross-diamond cut shredder, don’t prevent a document from being put back together; in fact, the sheets can be reassembled within hours.

▪ Be careful where and to whom you write checks.

▪ Use credit cards rather than debit cards because, in general, credit card holders are not liable if information is breached.

▪ Use a credit monitoring service that notifies you in real time.

Facebook identity theft risks are not widely taught, according to Abagnale, and there are a couple of main risks to be aware of:

▪ To minimize risk of having your identity stolen because of a Facebook posting, it’s better to post a group picture or an action shot of “you playing tennis,” rather than a straight-on shot.

▪ Posting your birthplace and birth date on Facebook is a step closer to having your identity stolen. Review your Facebook privacy settings.

Chaney: 704-358-5197; Twitter: @sechaney