Frank Abagnale is a leading identity theft expert and the author of Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan —but you probably know him as the elusive con man who was immortalized in the movie Catch Me If You Can , starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As a young man, Frank led a life of crime, impersonating others and forging checks before he was caught and put behind bars.
In the early 1970s, Frank was released from prison on the condition that he would work with the government, and he has spent 32 years teaching at the FBI Academy. "That's brought me to this side of the law and has given me the expertise and the background [to teach] all types of crime—computer crime, counterfeiting, forgery, and of course, identity theft." Jean talks to Frank about his tips for safeguarding your identity:
Use a monitoring service to keep tabs on your credit. When you're shopping around for a service, Frank says to ask two questions: Do they monitor all three credit bureaus (they should), and do they notify you in real time if they see a red flag?
Write personal checks sparingly and use a credit card over a debit card, Frank says. That way, if someone gets a hold of your card number, they're spending the credit card company's money, not yours. Most credit card companies don't hold you liable for fraudulent charges, but it could take up to six months to retrieve money that was taken from your checking account.
Buy a good micro shredder. Avoid straight shredders, which Frank says aren't as effective.
Clean your hard drive on old computers before you discard or sell them, Frank says.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013