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What Information Is Hidden on Your Airline Boarding Pass? You Might Be Surprised

Based on a report from Krebs on Security, we should all think twice before tossing that old airline boarding pass in the trash. In fact, from this point forward I wouldn’t even consider doing that. Even though most airlines don’t print everything about you and your trip in plain English on boarding passes, much of that information can apparently be found in the QR or bar codes that do appear on the documents.Based on a report from Krebs on Security, we should all think twice before tossing that old airline boarding pass in the trash. In fact, from this point forward I wouldn’t even consider doing that. Even though most airlines don’t print everything about you and your trip in plain English on boarding passes, much of that information can apparently be found in the QR or bar codes that do appear on the documents. According to Krebs, his investigation into boarding passes began when one of his readers got curious about the information stored in the bar code on a boarding pass that was pictured on Facebook. As it turns out, that bar code contained the ticketholder’s name, frequent flyer number and destination information. Using that information, the reader was able to gain access to the ticketholder’s online account with the airline – in this case, Lufthansa – and to his Star Alliance account. From there, he was able to see other trips that the ticketholder had scheduled, and could have made itinerary changes and/or cancellations. If you think about that, it’s pretty frightening. Just imagine a burglar casing your house. If that burglar could gain access to your future travel plans, then he’d know exactly when you wouldn’t be home so that he could commit his burglary with minimal risk of getting caught. Now, just imagine that you have a wife or a daughter who has attracted a stalker. Do you really want to provide that stalker with a means to avoid running into you?
These are just a couple of plausible scenarios.
If you are flying and have a smart phone, you may want to consider using an electronic boarding pass. That way, you don’t have to worry about a discarded pass falling into the wrong hands. Nor do you have to worry about some airline employee collecting your pass and then having the information on it falling into the wrong hands. If you do choose to print your boarding pass, then you should seriously consider shredding any portion of it that you are able to keep when boarding. Throwing it in the trash can really isn’t a very good option any more.   _________________ Jim Malmberg, ACCESS, American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group whose primary purpose is to disseminate credit education information and assistance to the general public, visit www.GuardMyCreditFile.org