A number of consumers have recently reported instances of fraudulent purchases as a result of stolen identification. Authorities have identified that many of these purchases were made by the Felony Lane Gang, a criminal organization which operates across the country, and is now targeting the New England region.
The Felony Lane Gang is a sophisticated group that breaks into cars, steals checks and ID’s to make false checks. The checks are then made payable to unsuspecting individuals whose IDs were stolen. The criminals have been known to then disguise themselves to look like the victim based on pictures from the stolen materials such as debit/ATM cards, licenses and passports, attempting to appear as the customer in order to cash stolen checks.
The American Bankers Association offers the following information on how to avoid and/or respond quickly to identity theft:
- Don’t give your social security number or other personal credit information about yourself to anyone who contacts you.
- Tear up receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for any missing mail.
- Choose to do business with companies you know are reputable, particularly online. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active, indicating a secure transaction.
- Never give out personal financial information in an email.
- Never give out personal financial information over the phone unless you have initiated the contact.
- When using social networking sites, never include personal contact information including birth date, email addresses, physical address, mother’s maiden name or other information that could provide sensitive information to fraudsters or hints to passwords.
- Don’t open email from unknown sources and use virus detection software.
- Protect your PINs (don’t carry them in your wallet!) and passwords; use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically.