On this special episode of the podcast, our host, fraud expert Frank Abagnale, answers your questions. We dive into viewer emails to get Frank’s take on a wide variety of subjects, including using public Wi-Fi, DNA testing and cash transfer apps. Tune in to hear the answers to your burning questions and get Frank’s tips on how to protect yourself against fraud.
TIPS: If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam or would like to report fraud call The Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Anyone can become the victim of a scam, it’s important to be vigilant and know your vulnerabilities. For instance, if you are looking for a job you are more vulnerable to a work-at-home scam.
[00:00:01] Julie: Coming up on this week's episode of AARP's The Perfect Scam.
[00:00:05] Frank Abagnale: I'm very, very concerned that the next big breach we're going to see is a breach of literally millions and millions of search engines.
[00:00:13] Julie: That's very scary. Very scary.
[00:00:15] Brook: Yeah, that is scary.
[00:00:21] Julie: Welcome back to AARP's The Perfect Scam. I'm Julie Getz, and with me today is our cohost, Frank Abagnale. Frank, it's good to see you.
[00:00:28] Frank Abagnale: Hi, Julie, great to be with you.
[00:00:29] Julie: And today we have a very special episode; this is a bonus episode where it's called "You've Got Mail with Frank Abagnale-2nd Edition."
[00:00:38] Frank Abagnale: Awesome.
[00:00:39] Julie: And to make this episode even more special, we have one of the show's producers, Brook Ellis with us today.
[00:00:45] Brook: Hey, how are you doing?
[00:00:46] Julie: Hi, and uh, together Brook and I are going to ask you questions that have been emailed to us from the show's listeners. Are you ready?
[00:00:54] Frank Abagnale: Absolutely.
[00:00:55] Julie: All right. Brook, do you want to go for the first one?
[00:00:57] Brook: Yeah. So Eric from New York asks, "Is free wi-fi safe? I know I shouldn't do things like check my bank accounts while using it, but should I be using it at all?"
[00:01:09] Frank Abagnale: Uh, no, especially for uh personal information, so for example, if I'm at the airport it is saying that it's free wi-fi, it did not say that it's private wi-fi. Uh, so that means anybody can be listening and recording or watching the things that you do on your computer, so I certainly wouldn't want to wire money or fill out a credit application or answer things where I have to give someone my social security number, or maybe I'm buying something and I have to provide my credit card number, expiration date, and pin number; those are the kind of things you don't want to do. If you just remember that free wi-fi means basically that it's not private wi-fi, it's free and it's open to anyone.
[00:01:50] Julie: Great. Good question. Frank, this next question is from Aaron in Washington DC. “Frank, is it safe to do DNA testing?”
[00:01:59] Frank Abagnale: That depends. You know, like everything you do, like looking at apps or anything else, you need to read the fine print in the contract. So my question with those services are, what happens to my information once you've sent it to me? Do you store it in a data file? Do you sell it to people who want information; insurance companies or someone else? So I want to know in the written contract with the agreement what do you actually do with my material? And of course I prefer for you to say I destroy it immediately, but you can even call the company, say I'm interested in getting your service, I was going to apply for it, but I want to know, what do you do with my information? Once you've supplied it to me, what happens to it? And of course, your response is you want to hear, no, we destroy it. We don't store it, we don't keep it on file, because I would be a little concerned about that being shared with other people. I don't want them to see.
[00:02:50] Julie: Yeah. I'll bet. Oof. Okay, go ahead, Brook.
[00:02:53] Brook: All right, this one is from Sara in DC, and I actually would love to know the answer to this. “What has actually happened when you get that note from a company that your data has been breached, and what should you do?”
[00:03:07] Frank Abagnale: Well, first of all, they're going to sometimes offer you free credit monitoring service, but usually, typically for just one year. When people steal mass data, and they steal your name, your social security number, and your date of birth, you can't change your name, you can't change your social security number, and you can't change your date of birth. So those people typically hold onto that data. We refer to it as warehousing the data for typically three to four years before they ever actually bring it out in the marketplace or put it out for sale. So if someone offers me one year of credit monitoring, two years of credit monitoring, I tell them that's worthless, so if I would have a data breach today and they said your name and information has been breached, if I've already frozen my credit, I really wouldn't worry about it too much, and if I hadn't, I would then freeze my credit so no one who got my social security number, got my personal information could actually do anything with it, so they can't apply for a credit card, they can't get a loan or go buy something using my information. But again, whenever they say they're going to give you one year or two year credit monitoring, remembering that's not going to work, uh, you need a lot more time than just uh that, because they will warehouse that data because you can't change that information so they can sell that information at any time.
[00:04:22] Brook: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and I know that the three main credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, they each allow you to pull one free credit report a year, so that's just another good way to monitor your credit. 'Cause like you said, if there's a breach, those people might be holding onto it for a couple months or even like years before they use it, so you can just pull those credit reports for free and just keep an eye out on your credit for any suspicious activities.
[00:04:51] Okay, Frank. This is from Jill in Minnesota. “Frank, what is your worst nightmare scam that may not be mainstreamed but keeps you up at night?”
[00:05:04] Frank Abagnale: I'm very, very concerned that the next big breach we're going to see is a breach of literally millions and millions of search engines where people will know what it is that you actually have searched for on your computer. Now, if I'm Frank that's a, has a little plumbing shop and two employees, Frank's probably not too concerned if people searched what I've searched on my computer, but if I am the president of a bank, the mayor of a city, I have some prestigious job or I have some notoriety about me, I wouldn't want information out about the things that I look at on my computer. And so, I think that's where you get into ransom where I simply say, either you give me this amount of money or I'm going to release everything that you've ever searched on your computer, and things that you've looked at on your computer. There could be a lot of privacy issues, I think that's going to be the next breach. Anything that I can threaten you to give me money that you don't want me to expose something and you're willing to pay me the money for, that's a very good thing for a scam artist, so I think the next thing you'll see is a breach of a lot of search engines.
[00:06:07] Julie: That's very scary, very scary.
[00:06:09] Brook: Yeah, that is scary.
[00:06:10] Julie: All right, Brook, do you want to do one more? We'll do one more each.
[00:06:13] Brook: Yeah.
[00:06:13] Julie: Go ahead.
[00:06:13] Brook: This next one's from Brittany in New Jersey. "What are your thoughts on Venmo and other cash transfer apps?"
[00:06:21] Frank Abagnale: I have no problem with those. I tell young people all the time, if you use those services, make sure they are backed by a credit card, not a debit card, so that they don't have access to the actual money you have in your bank account which they would with a debit card. Make sure you backed it with a credit card, so they really only have access to VISA's money and you're not liable to get into your account.
[00:06:42] Brook: So when you set it up, you should use your credit card...
[00:06:45] Frank Abagnale: Credit card.
[00:06:45] Brook: ...and not the...
[00:06:46] Frank Abagnale: Yeah.
[00:06:46] Brook: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and I know a lot of people will default to their checking account, but because if you use a credit card with some cash apps there's an extra transaction fee, but even though there's that fee, you know that your credit card company has extra security for you and it's going to protect you whereas if you use your bank account like you're saying, you're just kind of out of that money if you get caught up in a scam.
[00:07:09] Frank Abagnale: Yes.
[00:07:10] Julie: Got it. Okay. So David from Maryland has a question. He thinks he went to school with your mother. "What was her maiden name again?"
[00:07:20] Frank Abagnale: I would never answer that question.
[00:07:24] Julie: I think that's what he was trying to do, see if he could uh, scam Frank Abagnale.
[00:07:29] Frank Abagnale: Yeah, that's correct.
[00:07:30] Julie: Collect information from him.
[00:07:31] Frank Abagnale: I have to tell you real quickly that the day this book came out, "Scam Me If You Can," within an hour, I got an email said, "Dear Mr. Abagnale," it went to email@example.com, "Dear Mr. Abagnale, I own the rights to 'Scam Me If You Can.com' and if you would like to buy that from me, this is how much it is. Please contact me." (chuckles) That's a scam.
[00:07:54] Brook: Man.
[00:07:56] Julie: All right, well that concludes our bonus episode of "You've Got Mail with Frank Abagnale-2nd Edition." Thank you so much Frank Abagnale and Brook Ellis. This is always a fun special episode, right?
[00:08:08] Frank Abagnale: Right, thank you, Julie. I truly enjoyed it.
[00:08:10] Brook: Great times.
[00:08:10] Julie: All right, well thank you guys, and we'll see you very soon.
[00:08:13] Brook: Okay, bye now.
[00:08:16] Julie: If you or someone you know has been the victim of a fraud or scam, call AARP's Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Thank you to our team of scambusters, Producer Brook Ellis, our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez, and of course, my cohost, Frank Abagnale. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP - The Perfect Scam, I'm Julie Getz.
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