One of my favorite parts of performing for a living is catching up with old friends, as well as meeting new friends. At a corporate program in Phoenix earlier this month, I was able to meet Frank Abignale, Jr, who you may know as the subject of the hit film Catch Me if You Can (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks). Meeting one of my childhood idols was a pretty incredible experience!
If you aren’t familiar with Frank, he executed a series of incredible cons from age 15 to 21. These included impersonating a Pan Am pilot, by which he was able to travel over 1,000,000 miles for free, impersonating a doctor, escaping from police custody multiple times, and successfully (and legitimately) passing the Louisiana Bar Exam without having ever attended legal classes. When apprehended, Frank served a small sentence before being brought onboard as a security consultant to the FBI, turning his life around and becoming an international authority on fraud.
What an incredible story of somebody turning their life around.
A few key takeaways from his lecture:
Your “Smart Home” Isn’t All That Smart
Be mindful of “smart devices” in your home. These include wifi connected TVs, cameras, thermostats, etc. These often aren’t built with robust security standards, and the weakest link in your home network can open you to a variety of attacks. Consider a router that allows you to create a guest network upon which these devices can live. Even if hackers can gain access to that network, your files and main hub will be protected.
Leave the Debit Card at Home
We’ve all had the experience of having our information stolen, be it from any of the recent major security breaches that have hit the news or from simply having our credit card information stolen after giving it to an unscrupulous employee. If somebody racks up charges on this card, you are backed by the credit card company and pay nothing. The thief has essentially spent the credit card company’s cash. Debit cards are a different beast, since they are tied directly to your account. Once the money has left your bank, it can require a deep investigation to retrieve. Keep that in mind, and realize that a stolen debit card can cause much deeper financial trouble than a stolen credit card.
Watch Your Picture
Especially on LinkedIn, we are told to use professional pictures that show us off in the best light. The problem is that these same pictures can be used by identity thieves to manufacture false IDs. By controlling the images that appear online to make sure that they aren’t standard headshots, we can help mitigate this risk.