Monday, December 3, 2012

Tips for Avoiding Fraud & Protecting Your Identity from Frank Abagnale

Javier Islas, Valery Belloso & Elizabeth Schott with Frank Abignale 
Last month U.S. Bank invited a few Accion staff to attend a presentation by Frank Abagnale on how to protect you and your business from fraud and identity theft. Frank is an American security consultant known for his history as a former check forger, impostor, and escape artist. He is now a consultant and lecturer at the academy and field offices for the FBI, and also runs Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company. His life was featured in the blockbuster movie Catch Me if You Can.

Here are some tips from the event compiled by our business development officer, Valery Belloso.

For business owners: 
  • Businesses and corporations lose $994 billion on average in white collar crime per year! 
  • If a business owner does not set policies in place to segregate the duties of writing checks, signing checks and reconciling bank accounts and fraud or embezzlement is committed, the bank is free of any financial obligation if they can prove that the same person was responsible for all three duties. 
  • Many banks offer Positive Pay – a daily record of all checks written. It decreases the business owner’s liability if there is check forgery or check washing that is done on one of their checks. If the bank runs the checks from your registry and any of the information doesn’t match, they won’t pay the altered check. 
  • Using your bank’s Bill Pay options to pay your bills is a good idea as it gives all liability to the bank. 
  • Checks that have a lot of security features on them are offered by ADP, Paychex, Intuit and Safe Checks. Many of these were designed by Frank Abagnale. 
  • ALL printers have hard drives that store all images ever copied. So if you ever want to discard an old printer, always remember to remove the hard drive! Check out this CBS segment to learn more.
For personal:
Frank’s tips to protect your identity and other simple steps to protect you and your family: 
  • Get a “Superior Security Micro-cut Shredder” for all of your personal docs. Docs shredded with straight and crisscross shredders can be put back together to steal the info. The same with your old credit cards and CDs.
  • Use a well-established credit monitoring service. All banks use which notifies you in real time if someone is trying to use your credit. You can also add your kids on here to protect their credit.
  • Limit your use of checks and be careful who you write them to.
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card for your purchases and payments! Your debit card is linked to your bank account and therefore your money is at risk each time you use it. Credit cards are the safest form of payment because it is the credit card company’s liability per law if fraud is committed, plus you build credit every time you pay off your credit card bill.
  • Get your kids a supplemental credit card when they are old enough – it is a credit card under their name, but you get the bill – shows you what they spend their money on and you help them to build good credit by paying it.
You can contact Frank directly by emailing him at His website is also full of free resources regarding protecting yourself and your business against fraud and theft: 


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  2. Thank you for this very helpful post. Venturing in a business definitely comes with several problems and among these are cases of fraud and identity theft. Several individuals have lost so much due to such incidences and so, it is really important to be knowledgeable of ways on how to combat these fraudulent acts. These tips of yours are very useful. Thank you for posting.