Facebook users risk identity theft, says famous ex-conman
Frank Abagnale, the man dubbed the world's greatest conman, has issued a stark warning about the dangers of identity theft and children using Facebook.
Abagnale said that children in particular need to be made aware of the serious risks of unwittingly revealing information on social networking sites. He went from confidence trickster, imposter, cheque forger and escape artist in his teenage yearsin the 1960s to become a security expert with the FBI. His life was famously portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood film Catch Me if You Can.
"I'm not on it [Facebook, but] I have no problem with it," he said, addressing the Advertising Week Europe conference in London on Wednesday. "I have three sons on it. I totally understand why people like it. But like every technology you have to teach children, it is an obligation of society to teach them how to use it carefully."
He said having accrued 37 years' work with the FBI he has also become aware of many widely available techniques to aggregate dangerous amounts of personal data from Facebook.
He gave the example of a creeper virus that allows the tracking of a Facebook user even if their phone is not transmitting.
Another readily available programme, which Abagnale says is owned by Google, uses facial recognition that can match with information on the social networking website "in just seven seconds".
"If you tell me your date of birth and where you're born [on Facebook] I'm 98% [of the way] to stealing your identity," he said. "Never state your date of birth and where you were born [on personal profiles], otherwise you are saying 'come and steal my identity'".
He also advised Facebook users to never choose a passport-style photograph as a profile picture, and instead use group photographs.
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