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No vacation for ID thieves

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

Identity thieves don't take summer vacations.

That's a timely reminder from TransUnion, a credit reporting company in Chicago.

While consumers are thinking about fun in the sun during their own travels away from home, criminals are thinking up new ways to steal their personal information, says Julie Springer, vice president of consumer education at TransUnion.

"Identity thieves love the summer months because you let your guard down, which means an open door for the criminal to gather the information needed to steal your identity," Springer said in a statement.

Here, courtesy of TransUnion, are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Keep your credit cards with you at all times. If that's not possible, use a hotel safe and be sure no one but you knows the combination.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you need to use an ATM, try to choose one that's indoors.
  • Consider notifying your bank and credit card companies about your vacation plans. Many financial institutions monitor accounts for unauthorized transactions, so knowing where you plan to travel and on which dates can be helpful.
  • Don't use your credit card on a public computer. If you must do so, be sure the website is a secure site and your information is wiped before you leave.
  • When you use your credit card to pay for services or make purchases, watch the entire transaction to make sure no one writes down your number or takes a picture of your card.
  • Never disclose your credit card number to anyone over the phone, not even the hotel staff. If someone at the hotel requests your number, walk down to the front desk to confirm the reason for and validity of the request.

If you become a victim of identity theft during your vacation, act immediately to minimize the damage and protect yourself. If you don't have travel insurance that offers assistance, contact your credit card issuers to cancel your credit cards, and notify the three major credit reporting agencies to put a security alert on your file.

Have you been the victim of identity theft?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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