Fmr. scam artist warns danger with over-sharing on social media

NBC News - (NBC News) An infamous former scam artist is issuing a stern warning about the dangers of social media.

Con artist turned security expert Frank Abagnale, Jr., the inspiration of the hit movie "Catch Me If You Can," says social media sites are fertile ground for identity thieves because too many people are too willing to share too much.

"We tell them who we're married to, our wife's maiden name, our children's names, where they go to school, what kind of cars we drive, what our pets' names are, where we're going on vacation," he says.

Abagnale has teamed up with the AARP to talk about older Americans falling victim to scams on social media, but their advice applies to all ages.

"For example, we tend to put straight photographs of ourselves on social media. They can then take that photograph and put it on a form of identification or a passport or driver's license," Abagnale warns.

He suggests you only use photos standing or sitting next to family, friends or pets.

Also, fudge your online bio to keep the bad guys off your trail.

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Abagnale provided these 4 tips to avoid identity theft via social media:

  • Never post personal information, including a Social Security number – not even the last four digits — birthday, place of birth, home address, phone numbers, or personal account information.
  • Avoid posting a front-facing picture on social media sites. A con artist can copy the image and use it to create a photo ID that can be used to steal a person's identity.
  • Set the privacy options for each social media account to restrict personal information, so it can only be viewed by a select group of people. Check the privacy settings regularly.
  • Don't log in to social media accounts via a public wireless network, where scammers can lurk. A 2016 survey by the AARP Fraud Watch Network found that more than 70 percent of the respondents have accessed their email, Facebook and other social media accounts via free public Wi-Fi.

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