Catch Me If You Can fraud expert Frank Abagnale on ‘best way to secure’ accounts online

Scam attempts are, unfortunately, rife. Tactics can be incredibly convincing, meaning even the most wary of people could be at risk of falling victim to a scam or fraud attempt. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, worryingly, people are more likely to fall victim or fraud or cyber offences above any other crime.

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Frank Abagnale Jr, the co-author of Catch Me If You Can, is an American security consultant who is known for being an ex-con artist.

Last year, the fraud expert appeared in a bonus episode of AARP’s The Perfect Scam podcast.

During the instalment, titled “True or False With Frank Abagnale”, Mr Abagnale was on hand to debunk some myths surrounding fraud and security.

First up was the question: “True or false, long complex passwords are one of the best ways to secure accounts online.”

Sharing his expertise, he replied that this was “false”.

He added: “The best way to secure is no password at all. Passwords are a 1964 technology.”

Speaking last year, Mr Abagnale continued: “Developed when I was actually 16 years old, before I did any of the things I did.

“And here at 71, we’re still using passwords. So we absolutely have to get rid of passwords.

“They’re the reason for ransomware, malware, and all the problems we have today.

“So just adding longer names and longer numbers, just makes it more confusing for people and doesn’t really do anything to stop someone from hacking into your account.”

The idea of not having a password could seem unsafe to some, and the question of what would happen if passwords weren’t used was posed to the fraud expert.

“We are on the move in the next two or three years to eliminate passwords completely, and I think that’s the right road to go to today,” he replied.

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“If you do use, in the meantime, passwords, obviously use a little common sense.

“You never want to use your password on Amazon to be your password on your bank account.

“So don’t use the same password on every single thing you do because it’s easy for you to remember it.”

Giving an example of what could happen, he continued: “If I can hack into Amazon, get your password, then I can hack into your bank account and everything else that you have.”

Elsewhere, recalling a talk back in 2017, Mr Abagnale told CNBC Make It: “Want to avoid identity theft? Never, ever use a debit card. I don’t own one. I never have and I never will.

“I don’t recommend them to anyone — not my family, not my friends, not you.”

In his Talks and Google speech back in 2017, he explained: “I don’t own a debit card, I’ve never owned one, I’ve never allowed my three sons to possess one.

“Certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer.”

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