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Originally published Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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How to stay safe from identity theft during vacation

When you're traveling, don't become a victim of identity theft. Identity theft can happen anywhere, but when you're far from home, you can...

MarketWatch

NEW YORK — When you're traveling, don't become a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft can happen anywhere, but when you're far from home, you can be particularly vulnerable to someone stealing your information.

It's important to stay aware of your surroundings, said Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911, which makes products to help protect against identity theft.

Levin offered these three tips to protect yourself from identity theft when you're on a trip:

• Alert your credit-card company. Before you go away, tell your credit-card company or your bank where you plan to travel. This allows most companies to set up their fraud-alert system, which notifies travelers if they are suspected victims of fraud. This is especially true for international trips. If you tell your card company that you are traveling in France and purchases turn up in Germany, then this is a likely indication that there could be a problem.

• Leave some cards at home. There's no need to take every credit card you own along on your trip. Take just one. This limits the chances that you'll lose them, or that a card will fall into the wrong hands.

Beware of leaving information in your hotel room. "Many people treat their hotel rooms like their castle with a moat around it," says Levin. "But they shouldn't."

Hotel rooms aren't the most secure places. Many people have access to the room, and you don't want to leave your wallet or your passport out where someone might take it. A better idea is to carry them with you, or if necessary, store them in the hotel's safe.

The same goes for a rental car, or even your own car. Don't leave personal information in the glove compartment or laptop computers on the seats. If someone breaks in, they may get access to your information.

Wherever you go, stay aware and use good sense.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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