Law enforcement officials say street gangs are increasingly focused on white collar crime like tax, credit and identity fraud. This year, more than three dozen suspected crew members have been indicted in separate cases around the country. Grand larcenies in New York City accounted for 40 percent of all crime last year, compared with 28 percent in 2001. About 5 percent of Americans nationwide have experienced some kind of identity theft, with Florida leading the country in complaints.
Some tips from the New York Police Department on how to keep your accounts and identification safe:
Check your bank accounts regularly, set up notifications that alert you when a withdrawal is made of more than $1. Check your credit to make sure no new lines have been taken out in your name.
PROTECT YOUR STUFF
Don't leave your bag on the chair at a restaurant, or in the grocery cart, or in your car. Thieves can swipe your wallet or using a hand-held skimmer, swipe your account number and run while you're not looking.
SIGN IN GEL INK
Fraudsters can intercept a check in the mail, wash it in acetone, rewrite it and cash it before the bank notices. Use pens that have gel ink because it doesn't wash out like the typical ink used in many ball-point or felt-tip pens.
KNOW THE SCAM
Don't buy it if someone approaches you asking to borrow a bank card and saying in return you'll get some cash. It's probably illegal, and you'll probably never see your card or the person again.