Former Con Artist: Don’t Use A Debit Card

Protect yourself and do this instead

Frank Abagnale is, perhaps, one of the best known con artists because they made a movie about his life of crime: Catch Me if You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

Abagnale’s life of fraud was relatively short lived, from 15 to 21, before he was caught. He served some time and then began work for the US federal government.  He is currently a consultant and lecturer for the FBI academy and field offices and runs his own financial fraud consultancy company.

Say No to Debit Cards

In a recent Google talk, he revealed that he has never owned a debit card and he never allowed his three sons to own debit cards. Abagnale calls debit cards “truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer”.  He asked himself “How would I remove 99.9% of my personal liability [in the snap of a finger]?” The answer:  He uses the safest form of payment that exists on the face of the earth- a credit card.

Credit Cards Instead

Frank Abagnale’s money sits in a money market account and earns interest. “Actually, nobody knows where it is because it’s not exposed for anyone to find it”, he says, because he doesn’t use a debit card.

Abagnale  says there are benefits to using a credit card which include building a credit score (provided you actually pay off your card!*) and fraud protection.

In Canada, you are protected from fraudulent debit purchases or losses resulting from ‘situations beyond your reasonable control’.  But, when people manage to take money out of your account with a debit breach, sometimes the investigations can take a while and, during that time,  you don’t have your money.

Watch the clip below and hear all the reasons why he only uses a credit card.


*I’d suggest that if you don’t have a budget in place, get one and follow it especially if you are going to switch to a credit card. It can be too easy to overspend if you don’t know your budget and if you are not tracking your spending!-LM