Digital thieves are finding innovative ways to gather the personal information they need to steal victims' identities, a former con man turned educator warned yesterday.
According to reformed forger Frank Abagnale Jr., who came to prominence when his 1980 autobiography, Catch Me If You Can, was recently turned into a film by Steven Spielberg, identity thieves are becoming more professional and harder to fight.
Abagnale currently acts as an advisor to law enforcement agencies and is the spokesman for security vendor PrivacyGuard.
He warned in a statement: "These crooks pretend to be employees of reputable companies looking for new employees. They try to con people into reporting their social security and bank account numbers online or on the phone.
"They are so slick they often follow up with professional-looking forms that gather data for a 'background check'. But about a month after the form is returned, the 'new employee' learns all they landed is a role as an identity theft victim."
Abagnale gave the following tips for avoiding such scams:
- Do not provide any non-work-related personal information (like your marital status, eye colour, etc) over the phone or online, as a real employer is not going to hire you for these details.
- Do not give your social security number, even if they say they need it to complete a "routine background check", until you have had a face-to-face meeting with your prospective employer.
- Do not provide credit card or bank account numbers when you are communicating with a prospective employer.
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