No Holiday for Identity Thieves

Take extra precautions to guard your personal information while traveling.

I'm going to be away on vacation for several weeks this summer, and I've been reading stories about new scams to steal travelers' personal information. How can I protect against identity theft while I'm away? -- M.S., San Diego

Start by letting your credit card company know when you'll be traveling (especially if you're leaving the country). Financial institutions' fraud departments are becoming more vigilant about unusual activity on credit cards. But if you get a phone call or an e-mail about suspicious activity on your card, don't immediately give out your information and don't call the number on the message -- that's a common ploy by identity thieves to capture personal information. Instead, dial the customer-service number on the back of your credit card.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.