Five Rules to Abide By When Dealing With Identity Theft

Key Takeaways

  • Never readily give away your personal information.
  • By putting your personal information on social media, you have a very high probability of having your identity stolen.
  • There are rules you can follow to help protect yourself from identity theft.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself on the receiving end of questions like, “Where were you born?” or “What’s your date of birth?” These are questions that, in today’s world, you need to be very careful about answering. And according to Frank Abagnale, if you’re on social media, you NEVER want to answer them.

You may recall hearing about Frank Abagnale, former con artist turned cyber expert for the FBI. Leonardo DiCaprio played him in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.” According to Abagnale, if you put this information on the internet, there’s a 98% chance you’ll have your identity stolen.

In addition to not revealing your birthdate and birthplace on social media, Abagnale offers some specific advice on avoiding identity theft. His new book, “Scam Me If You Can: Simple Strategies to Outsmart Today’s Rip-off Artists,” discusses five rules to follow.

Number one, protect your identity. What does this mean? Well, it’s not unusual for many different services and organizations to ask for information beyond what they really need. For instance, your Social Security number, your date of birth, and so on…even though the information isn’t relevant to why you’re engaging with them. Don’t answer these questions—simply refuse. You may receive some push back, but keep your guard up, especially if they insist they need the information right away. Verify who you’re talking with and why they need the information.

Number two, secure your finances. Here, Abagnale is referring to those who claim they can double your money overnight, guaranteed. These are quick-scam con artists who will take your money and run. An honest financial planner will tell you nothing is guaranteed, so be careful who you trust to handle your money.

Number three, preserve your digital presence. Don’t put your important documents online, in the cloud, or all saved on one laptop. Instead, keep it safeguarded in a safe deposit box or saved to an external hard drive where it isn’t vulnerable to hackers.

Number four, safeguard your home and hearth. If you’re like most people, it’s likely that you receive phone calls from unknown numbers every so often. When this happens, don’t answer. If you do happen to answer, don’t speak. The reason for this, according to Abagnale, is that it may be someone trying to record your voice. In saying nothing, the caller will usually hang up.

Number five, shelter your heart. This is in reference to online dating. Abagnale counsels that you always verify that the person on the other side of the app is real. Do an online search to confirm the person’s claims regarding who they are, and don’t let your heartstrings blind you to a potential scam.

For more information on the subject of identity theft, please see our blog post from February 28, 2018, 3 Steps to Protect Your Identity. The post contains a link to a video of Abagnale where he provides some more information on this very important topic. Until next time, enjoy.


Gary Klaben is in our Glenview, IL office and serves our clients who are now located all over the country. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

Learn more about TransformingWealth™ , our proprietary approach designed to get your arms around the big picture, so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about Coyle’s TransformingWealth Preview Meeting and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.
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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting, but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions.

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