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Former Con Man Gives MN Tips on Avoiding Scams

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Frank Abagnale is now an ambassador for the AARP's Fraud Watch Network, but when he was a young man he stole millions while passing himself off as an airline pilot, a doctor and an attorney. Credit: AARP Minnesota
Frank Abagnale is now an ambassador for the AARP's Fraud Watch Network, but when he was a young man he stole millions while passing himself off as an airline pilot, a doctor and an attorney. Credit: AARP Minnesota
 By John MichaelsonContact
October 19, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and Minnesotans are getting tips on how to protect themselves from a man who knows the fraud business all too well.

Frank Abagnale, the former con man whose life was portrayed in the movie "Catch Me If You Can," is now regarded as a respected authority on forgery, embezzlement and the like.

He says simple ways to safeguard against identity theft include shredding personal documents, regularly monitoring your credit and avoiding the use of checks.

"Because every time you write a check at a store, you leave that piece of paper behind and on the check is your name and address and phone number, your bank's name and address, your account number at your bank, the routing number into your account, the signature you have on your signature card at your bank and, of course, the store has written down your state driver's license number and your date of birth," he points out.

Abagnale was in Minnesota this past week as part of a fall educational series presented by AARP Minnesota.

Abagnale notes that since frauds and scams are constantly changing in this ever-high-tech world, it's vital to keep up to date on the latest cons.

He says one easy way to do that is with the AARP's Fraud Watch Network, which offers free alerts, tips and advice.

"It's just really good that there is finally somewhere there's a resource because you can't really rely on the government, you can't rely on your bank, you can't rely on the police to protect you, so you just don't want to make it easy,” he states. “Be a little smarter. Be a little wiser. It’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. Verify, check things out if you're a little bit suspicious."

There are more than 15 million victims of identity theft in the U.S. each year.



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