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Former Fraudster: Carrying These Cards in Your Wallet Is a Big Mistake

(Frank Abagnale, CNBC) To identity thieves, a recycling bin, a mailbox, a parked car or a lonely purse left behind on a church pew are like all-you-can-steal buffets.

Names, addresses and ID numbers are right there for the taking. I’ve seen it all, and believe me: They do get taken.

For more than 45 years, I’ve worked with the FBI, along with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and government agencies to help fight fraud. But my expertise began more than 50 years ago, in an unusual way: I was one of the world’s most famous con artists.

I’m not proud of the things I did, but my story, which is depicted in my 1980 memoir, “Catch Me If You Can,” gave me the opportunity to educate people of all ages on how to prevent themselves from getting scammed.

The most common form of identity theft is when someone uses another person’s information for financial gain. Often, this happens when a purse or wallets get stolen.

The theft of a wallet is unnerving, to say the least, and it’s a huge burden for many: Victims must notify the police, banks, credit card companies, DMV, health insurance carrier, Social Security Administration and so on.

The fewer debit and credit cards you carry with you, the fewer you’ll have to freeze or cancel should your wallet disappear.

I don’t even recommend using debit cards at all. In fact, I don’t own one — I never have, never will and never recommend them to anyone. Every time you use a debit card, you put your money and your bank account at risk.

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