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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

What Does Your Boarding Pass Say About You?

Posting your boarding pass online could reveal a lot more personal information than you thought.

We often get excited as we're headed off on a vacation that we might not think about simple things that could put us at risk. For example, have you ever posted a picture of you with your boarding pass as you're boarding your jet to paradise? Were you aware that the seemingly innocent piece of paper that only appears to show your flight details actually contains a lot more of your personal information?

What's on a boarding pass?

Information displayed on the boarding pass can include the following:

  • Full legal name
  • Frequent flyer number
  • Flight number
  • Departure date and time
  • E-ticket number
  • Barcode number – which can tell a fraudster your phone number, frequent flyer number and information about future flights booked through the same number.
  • Passenger Name Record – a reservation code which serves as a unique identifier for the passenger in the computer system. It includes route data on all those travelling along.

Using this information, someone else could potentially hack into your booking site where more information such as your passport number, email address, telephone and even your credit card details can be revealed.

According the security expert Brian Krebs, there are many websites that can decode barcodes and QR codes, leading someone to accessing the rest of you information. From the barcode site, to the airline site, Krebs was able to access information about the flyer and even the person who purchased the ticket.

Many people forget to check their credit card and bank statements while on a trip. Fraudulent charges on your card could take longer to be reviewed and flagged. Experienced travelers often inform their banks when they are going out of town so they have access to their credit cards while traveling, if a fraudster acts quickly, they can make purchases at the same time and it wouldn't set off an alarm.

Protecting personal information

Remember, airlines collect personal information to reserve seats on the airplanes and for security reasons, to verify who is flying on the planes. This information can be available via your boarding pass. That's why it's important to protect the information on your boarding pass. This is information that you would not normally post on your social media accounts, so why make an exception when it comes to your travel plans? Treat it like you would any other document, such as a credit card receipt. Don't leave it lying on the plane or in your hotel room, instead take it home and shred it.

As travel season approaches it is important to keep information security on your mind. While you are off enjoying you vacation, someone could be enjoying your identity. There are several things you can do to make your travel safer and one of the easiest is to set up balance alerts through your bank. This way if there are unauthorized charges to your credit cards, you can be promptly alerted. Something else you could consider is Identity Guard's identity theft protection. Some plans include lost wallet features, which can come in handy during vacation travel.

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