Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stealing your life

Frank W. Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can*, wrote this self-help book on identity theft protection. It's funny that I found myself trusting a professional thief over someone who was not. Perhaps it was his writing style, but I found myself paying much more attention.

The book is set-up in a similar fashion as the book I read previously. The first half contains stories of both the thieves and victims of identity theft. Abagnale's descriptions give a lot of detail about the stories. His motivation is to inform you on the why and how victims were targeted and robbed. He even discloses that he has been a victim of fraudulent credit card charges. Some of his stories are repeated in the second half, making for redundant reading.

The book contains 2, maybe 3, chapters on how to protect yourself and resolve problems. Much of the suggestions are found elsewhere on the internet and are common sense. Some of his suggestions are interesting. For example, he suggests using a credit card to pay for as many purchases as possible. IMO, using a credit card sets you up for later problems if you don't pay it off in full each month, a warning he also gives. (Of course, I am thinking if you don't have a credit card, there is no credit card for a thief to steal). Checks are an even bigger problem because of how much information they give about you. And even with implementing his 19 other suggestions, you will still likely be a victim. He has one chapter dedicated to helping you resolve the problem.

Book Rating: 3 stars**

This book is better than the other I reviewed. Still, I am rather discouraged at how prevalent identity theft is and how little there is to protect yourself. For example, how fair is it that you have to PAY to have access to your credit report more than once a year. Why are those things so wide open?

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

*Yes, there was a movie of the same title.

** A fair warning is that Abagnale promotes a privacy protection plan in his book. He endorses a credit monitoring product with a monthly fee, so the book comes off as a promotional tool.

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