From face-to-face cons to online scams, fraud risks are something many people may be concerned about. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), people are more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offences above any other crime. They can come at a huge cost too, with 332,570 crimes being reported to Action Fraud between October 2017 and March 2018, and £706 million being lost by victims in this time frame. Overseas, in the United States of America, a former con-artist and fraud expert has spoken out about how to prevent fraud.
Frank Abagnale, the author of Catch Me If You Can, is a former con-artist who has worked with, advised, and consulted with the FBI and hundreds of financial institutions, corporations, and government agencies across the globe, in a bid to help them fight against fraud.
Speaking to CNBC Make It, he highlighted a misconception about identity theft in the modern day.
Recalling a talk he gave in 2017, Mr Abagnale explained a member of the audience had posed the question of whether it’s harder for criminals to steal identities today, compared to back in the 1960s.
However, the fraud expert explained that this wasn’t the case, but instead, it could be about 4,000 times easier for fraudsters these days.
So, why is technology such a convenient pathway for identity thieves to find out about a person’s life?
Credit card reports, bank account numbers, and personal and family details are all available on the computer, he said.
But it’s not just the world of online which people may want to watch out for.
According to Mr Abagnale, using a debit card could come with a big risk.
He said: “Want to avoid identity theft? Never, ever use a debit card. I don’t own one. I never have and I never will.
“I don’t recommend them to anyone — not my family, not my friends, not you.”
In his Talks and Google speech back in 2017, he explained: “I don’t own a debit card, I’ve never owned one, I’ve never allowed my three sons to possess one.
“Certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer.”
Instead, Mr Abagnale uses a credit card.
Not only does his usage of this card improve his credit score, the fraud expert explained that if he ran into a scam, as the credit card user, he would have “no liability”.
Speaking to CNBC Make It, he added: “When I use a credit card, I’m spending the credit card company’s money every day until I pay my bill at the end of the month.
“Meanwhile, my money is earning interest in a bank account.”
This article was first published on Wednesday August 28, 2019.