Scam Me If You Can

Your friend “Rachel” called today.

Seven times, she did, and you answered two of them before you realized that you were being robocalled again. You’re usually pretty savvy about not being fooled, but lately, it seems like the more you know, the better scammers get at deception. So read the new book “Scam Me If You Can” by Frank W. Abagnale and protect yourself.

You’ve heard the horror stories – people scammed out of their life savings, businesses targeted by ransomware, computers hijacked with malware – and you wonder if you’re doing enough to avoid becoming a victim of technology thieves.

The answer to that is “no.” Says Abagnale, who was a scammer himself for part of his young life, boiler-room thieves are constantly looking for ways to get around technology blocks, firewalls and the like. They know exactly how to find your personal information online (it’s very easy), and they buy what’s not just a few clicks away. Chances are, you’re already an open book on some database.

So what can you do?

First of all, recognize that safety is fleeting: Scammers know how to suss out information better than you know how to hide it. Also remember that if you’re scammed, you’re not alone: In 2017, more than 16 million Americans were victims of fraud.

Never let your guard down when talking to strangers. In public, watch your belongings at all times. Don’t fall “under the ether” by becoming complacent, and if you feel pressured, walk away or hang up. Question fees, especially anything you’re asked to pay upfront. Never ever give personal information to someone who calls you with a “deal.”

Those things may be commonsensical.

Abagnale goes on …

Lighten your wallet by carrying only what you need today. Invest in the right kind of shredder and shred everything. Know how to hire a trustworthy banker, accountant, IT person and other service workers. Learn what you can do to protect your small business from hacking and ransomware. And as for passwords, well, Abagnale awaits the day we can truly forget them, since better security methods are available.

Until that day arrives, look for “Scam Me If You Can” – but don’t answer an unrecognized phone call or press “2” to be taken off a list. Doing either is a mistake, as you’ll learn inside this informative, important book.

Yes, it’s time to stop hiding beneath your desk from scams. Not to scare you – though the information does read like a high-tech horror novel – but Abagnale wants his readers to know how thieves think and work, and how to build a virtual wall around personal and business data. He writes truthfully, in plain talk, and if you’re not thrown into action by his useful advice, the cautionary tales he tells will do it.

“Scam Me If You Can” is the kind of book of which you should buy multiple copies: one for you, and one for your parents, the office and anybody who holds your information. Read it, share it, protect yourself or get scammed. It’s your call.

“Scam Me If You Can” by Frank W. Abagnale, c.2019, Portfolio/ Penguin, $19/$25 Canada, 337 pages

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