January 15th, 2008

Book Review … Stealing Your Life

Stealing Your Life by Frank Abagnale

I remember enjoying the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of real life con artist Frank Abagnale. After being caught Abagnale goes to work for the FBI, helping them to catch con artists and today is a noted expert in the field as well as having written several books. This is one that you might want to pick up!

The focus of this book is Identity Theft and it is chilling (a) how easily this can be accomplished, (b) how often it is happening today and (c) with technological advances this is considered to be a high growth business!

The book tells stories of victim, how easily their identities were assumed and the impact that the fraud has had on their lives … people turned down for mortgages because others were racking up debts, people having to assume the debt of their impostors, and even a man who was arrested and help in a South African jail for 20 days for crimes committed by someone else.

Abagnale provides advice about how to protect yourself from this crime, including lots of common sense actions which are also easy to forget. Shred anything with personal information, check your credit rating regularly, check your credit card bills, don’t let your credit card out of your sight, only use secure sites for online payment, be wary of sketchy ATMs and practice “safe computing” etc.

The author also talks about the tell tale signs that your identity has been compromised … unfamiliar credit card charges, calls from debt collectors, unexpected rate increases from insurance companies, missing mail etc.

The inconvenience and discomfort associated with this kind of crime is not something any of us want to deal with, so it makes sense to do whatever you can to protect yourself. It is a sad fact but in the same way that the house burglar will target the easiest home to enter, so this kind of criminal will victimize those who leave them selves vulnerable.

Some of the statistics are chilling …in 2005 the statistics suggest that an identity was stolen every 4 seconds!

Whether you are a business or an individual you don’t need this hassle, so learn how to protect yourself … and do it!

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