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Con artist expert shares how to avoid scams

KAAL-TV
Created: November 07, 2019 10:47 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- If anyone knows how scams work, it's Frank W. Abagnale. 

"You can't rely on the police, you can't rely on the government, you can't rely on your bank to protect you, you have to be a smarter consumer today," Abagnale said.

By 21-years-old, he had cashed millions in fraudulent checks and had posed as a pilot and a doctor. His skills later got him a job with the FBI. His life even inspired the film Catch Me If You Can where Leonardo DiCaprio played him. Now he works with the American Association of Retired Persons where he advised the public Thursday night at the Mayo Civic Center.

"Millennials get scammed more than seniors but seniors lose more money because they have more money," Abagnale said.

Abagnale said there are two red flags to look out for when you get a call. 

"They either had to ask you for money and it had to be right now," he said. "Or they wanted information. What's your social security number? What's your date of birth?"

He also said too much information can be found online like in Whitepages which could provide people's ages, phone numbers, family members and addresses. Social media pictures also play a role, he said.

"If you make it easy for someone to steal from you, it is very, very unfortunate but chances are someone will so don't make it easy," he said.

Abagnale also recommended freezing one's credit and not owning a debit card. But even if you do get scammed, Abagnale said you shouldn't feel embarrassed.

"But you do need to tell somebody to do something about it because if you don't tell somebody, they're just going to do the same thing to somebody else," Abagnale said. 

Abagnale also said government agencies never call to ask for money. He listed the attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau as resources to verify the information.

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