The Felony Lane Gang (FLG) is a national organization whose purpose is to steal your personal information then use it to their advantage. Whereas most worry about losing their personal financial information online these days, the FLG gets it the old fashioned way, they steal it from your car.
FLG victims are mostly women who leave their purse or other personal belongings in their car at the gym, the park, day care or other place where someone might not want to carry their purse. In a matter of seconds, the criminal will take a hammer, smash the window of a car, steal the purse and be gone before anyone sees what happened. It can literally happen as fast as it takes to run in, drop off a child and come back out.
Once the FLG has your information, they will get someone from their network that looks sort of like you from the picture on your driver’s license. They also now have your credit cards and likely your checkbook; all the information they need to visit your bank and pose as you. They’ll drive up in a nice car to the outside lane of the drive-thru of your bank. They will wear sunglasses and may not roll the window all the way down. All of that keeps the banker inside from getting a good look at them. Typically they will want to make a withdrawal from your account in an amount of roughly $1,000 so as not to draw too much suspicion. A valid ID (yours) will be presented and if the bank doesn’t know of the theft, they may pass the funds through the drive-up and the criminal drives off. The FLG will keep hitting banks with your information until finally someone recognizes them as a fraud and asks them to come inside to verify information. At that point, the criminal realizes they’ve been caught and will drive off calmly. In most cases, they will have hidden their license plate from view so even the best security cameras have a difficult time getting a license number.
To prevent this from happening, never leave personal belongings in your car, even just for a moment to run in and back out. At the very least, any items need to be hidden from view. These criminals are looking for something they can smash and grab quickly. If it does happen, call the police immediately then, right away, call your bank so that they can put an alert on your account. Also notify your credit card companies and any other service for which you might have carried identifying information in your car. As a side note, make sure you understand your and your bank’s obligations in reimbursing you in the event of this kind of theft. Review your account information and talk to your banker to know who has what responsibilities.
You may also want to consider notifying the credit bureaus so that they can place an alert on your credit report or possibly freeze your information to prevent someone from opening new credit in your name. Once contact is made with any one credit reporting agency, they will notify the other two. Visit Equifax.com, Experian.com or TransUnion.com, the three credit reporting agencies, to learn more. Other helpful resources can be found at identitytheft.gov, a site administered by the Federal Trade Commission.
With a small amount of effort, the risk of this kind of theft can be minimized. It will save you more time and effort than it takes just to leave your purse at home or take it in with you.
Frank Freels, Jr. is the senior vice president, security officer of Volunteer State Bank.