In July AARP North Dakota was fortunate to host the world’s leading expert on fraud and scams in Fargo, where he spoke to about 1,000 people. Abagnale also participated in a telephone town hall with thousands of North Dakotans that day. You can listen to that conversation here.

Abagnale also sat down with Prairie Public and you can watch that conversation on Prairie Public’s YouTube channel.

Abagnale says there is a victim of identity theft every two seconds. Children are sought-after victims of identity theft because criminals can use their identity for long periods of time before the theft is detected or credit is checked. He recommends monitoring children’s Social Security numbers.

Abagnale says there are ways to lessen your risk of identity theft:

  • Never list your place or date of birth online. These are the two most important pieces of information scammers need to steal your identity.
  • Do not post head-on shots of your face on social media. Those photos can easily be used by someone else to create a photo ID.
  • Shred all papers that contain valuable information, even if it’s just your name and address, with a secure micro-cut shredder, not a straight-cut or cross-cut shredder.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service.
  • Don’t write checks or use debit cards. Checks and debit cards put you at risk because they both provide direct access to your bank account. Use only a credit card, which is the most secure form of payment. If your credit card is misused, the liability is with the credit card company.
  • Do not provide any type of personal information to anyone who calls you. And do not engage in conversation with them. Just hang up. The longer you are on the line with them, the more of these types of calls you will receive.
  • Do not use public WiFi to check bank accounts or look up or send any valuable personal information.

Between the ages of 16 and 21, Abagnale successfully posed as an airline pilot, an attorney, a doctor and cashed millions in fraudulent checks. In case you didn’t read the best-selling book, he got caught and his exploits were depicted in the movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Today, Abagnale is an expert on the subject of identity theft, has written three books on the subject and served as a consultant to the FBI for more than 40 years.

As AARP’s Fraud Watch Network ambassador, Abagnale also has a new weekly podcast, called The Perfect Scam, which you can listen to at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.


We are encouraging AARP members in North Dakota to sign up to receive email from AARP North Dakota about upcoming events and other news. Go to http://www.aarp.org/yes2emailND. If you don’t already have an account on the AARP website, you’ll have to create one (by entering a user name and password) before you can opt in to receive our email.

You’ll receive emails about upcoming events such as lunch and learns, Movies for Grownups, and free document shredding. We’ll also periodically send you an email with other news from AARP North Dakota, such as volunteer opportunities, efforts to stop utility rate increases, and our advocacy work on behalf of North Dakotans 50 and older.

So, please opt in to receive our emails and be among the first to know about our upcoming events in your area.