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Former Con Artist Frank Abagnale Jr Says: Never, Ever Use a Debit Card

Former Con Artist Frank Abagnale Jr Says: Never, Ever Use a Debit Card
Jackie Reddy

Once a famous con artist and the author of Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale Jr. has offered Americans some sage advice when it comes to identity theft: don’t use a debit card. Rather, he says, savvy consumers should be putting purchases on a credit card and paying it off at the end of the month.

Frank Abagnale Jr., a famous con artist and the author of Catch Me If You Can, has advised Americans that if they want to protect their identity and assets, they shouldn’t use a debit card, reports CNBC.

While technological advances may have eased the lives of consumers around the country, they have also, he explained, made it much easier for would-be thieves to steal from unsuspecting members of the public.

Whereas in the 1960s, Abagnale required a printing press and type-setting equipment plus technical nous to carry out his thefts, he explained that, “With today’s technology, all a thief has to do is go online, give a check-printing service your name and account number, have the checks sent to a post office box and voilà—there goes the contents of your checking account.

Reiterating a point he made in a talk at Google in 2017 when he was asked if modern technology made identity theft more difficult than in the past, Abagnale said, “Never, ever use a debit card…a debit card is certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer. Why? It’s simple: Every time you use one, you put your money and your bank account at risk.”

Rather, he explained that it would be wiser for consumers to use their credit cards and then pay all purchases off at the end of every month.

By using this method of purchase, he added that, in the event of a security breach, “I won’t be responsible for any purchases made. If the same thing happens and the criminals get my debit card information, however, I could lose the money in my bank account and have a difficult and lengthy time recovering it.”

[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

View Comments (7)


  1. chongcao

    September 13, 2019 at 4:48 am

    It is very true. Debit cards is very dangerous if you have a big balance in your bank account. A travel debit cards or gift cards issued by credit card companies that does not link to your bank account is a better way to use if you can not get a credit card.

  2. MRM

    September 13, 2019 at 5:46 am

    He’s a smart guy. This “I only spend cash/use a debit card” crowd is open to the worst kind of fraud = immediate, where your account can be drained in seconds but it can easily take weeks or months to recover. If people aren’t smart enough to handle debt – and clearly some people aren’t – then when their checking account gets raided, they’re really going to be in a world of hurt.

  3. j2simpso

    September 13, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Agree with Frank here. Heck I’ll even use a credit card to pull out cash from the ATM. With the countries I visit these days whose to say that a random hole in the wall ATM I visit today hasn’t been compromised?

  4. BiPlane

    September 14, 2019 at 5:23 am

    Some of the dangers of using debit cards are mitigated by safeguards put in place by some/all? banks, Mine has a phone app that lets me turn access to the account by debit card number, on and off in about ten seconds. So I keep access off until I’m going to use the card..Also alerts you when any withdrawals are made by any means from the account. “Feeding” the checking account from another account, like a money market account will allow keeping the checking acc balance low enough to prevent draining significant amounts if compromised.

  5. Goaguy

    September 14, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    I would like to welcome Frank to Denmark. Here we have:
    1) Spending limits on debit cards. A short call to the bank will get it extended. Or possibility of spending limit only on foreign transactions.
    2) Banks that refund unauthorised usage first, ask questions later.

  6. KayVeeBee

    September 16, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Anyone who gets hold of my debit card number has just that. A number. He cannot touch my funds with that. Same for my bank account nr.
    Is the US so far behind the rest of the world where it comes to protecting bank customers?

  7. bostontraveler

    November 21, 2019 at 6:35 am

    @kayveebee . Yes, the US IS so behind the rest of the world in terms of a lot of banking services.
    In Europe nobody can just swipe my card and empty my account- they need a pin. They can’t purchase much online. There is double factor authorization on my mobile phone.
    I don’t understand when the US is going to get with the program and fully implement chip and pin technology… and allow electronic payments to others…it is like 1990 technology…

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