Attendees at the 2022 Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) Hybrid Annual Conference received fraud prevention advice from keynote speaker Frank Abagnale, a scam-artist-turned-Federal Bureau of Investigations educator.

Abagnale, whose life inspired the movie “Catch Me If You Can,” worked several fraud scams in his youth and was eventually asked by the FBI to teach prevention and verification tactics to agents, which he has done for 46 years.

“My philosophy is: prevention, verification and education,” said Abagnale. “Education is a powerful tool to preventing crime.”

He said the pandemic led to increased identity theft losses and “romance” scams.

“We saw record compromises or breaches in 2020,” Abagnale continued. “Every breach occurs because someone did something they weren’t supposed to do, or they failed to do something they were supposed to do, creating an open door for a hacker.”

Scammers can use social media to gain information to create more custom and sophisticated phishing scams. “Phishing emails are nothing more than social engineering,” he said.

Abagnale advised participants to look for “soft spots” in their offices and homes. “There are soft spots everywhere,” he said. “Criminals are not looking for challenges, but opportunities. They will find soft spots in your building or home. And now everything is connected to the Internet.”

Passwords, Abagnale predicted, will inevitably be replaced, as they are a significant liability to security.

“I hate passwords,” he said. “Sixty-three percent of network intrusions are due to compromised user passwords.”

With social media, Abagnale recommended thinking twice about what you post. “Never tell anyone or share your date of birth or where you were born,” he said. “What you say on Facebook stays on Facebook. And Facebook puts together everything from your gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more.”

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