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Famous Fraudster Warns Against Credit Cards

Frank Abagnale may not be a household name, but you probably know his work.

He is a famous fraudster who impersonated everyone from airplane pilots to doctors and got away with it for some time. He detailed his criminal adventures in a memoir entitled “Catch Me If You Can,” which was made into a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

And while Frank Abagnale’s crimes may have taken place decades ago, his mind still shifts to areas where he can recognize the ability to exploit or take advantage of a situation, and his current target is debit cards.

Debit cards are unique in that they link directly to a bank account. That’s something that Abagnale says simply isn’t worth the risk in his recent contributed article to CNBC.

The worst-case scenario is when an identity thief drains your bank accounts, takes your property and sells or trades your sensitive information.

In 2017, during talk I gave at Google, a young man posed a question that I’m often asked: “Given all the advancements in computing and technology, isn’t it harder for today’s criminals to steal your identity than it was back in the 1960s?”

The answer, I told him, is no: It’s not harder. In fact, it’s about 4,000 times easier today than it was then. - “‘Never, ever use a debit card,’ warns fraud expert and ex-con artist—here’s what to do instead”

In his article, Abagnale says the alternative is simple, a credit card that is used responsibly.

“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.

If there’s a large data breach (and you know that there will be) and a criminal does somehow get my credit card number and charges $1 million on it, I’m protected and my credit card company will cancel the card and send a new one within the next couple of days.

I won’t be responsible for any purchases made. If the same thing happens and the criminals get my debit card information, however, I could lose the money in my bank account and have a difficult and lengthy time recovering it.” “‘Never, ever use a debit card,’ warns fraud expert and ex-con artist—here’s what to do instead”

Always take the advice of a former con-man with a grain of salt, but there is validity in his statements. One of the most important takeaways from Abagnale’s view on debit cards is that everyone should be vigilant in checking their credit reports, debit and credit card statements, and have an urgency to do so.

Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.

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