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Securing Digital Lives

Dangerous Airline Boarding Pass Hacking Trend Puts Travelers At Risk

Celebrities do it. Your annoying jet-setting friends did it just last week. It’s the gravy of all the annoying #soblessed nomads you know on the internet.

But just because posting a photo of your first-class airline ticket is the best humble brag ever, doesn’t mean you should commit this privacy faux pas and wreck your next vacation, possibly becoming a victim of identity theft in the future as well.

Say what?!

That’s right. Public photos of your airline tickets is candy for hackers. Using airline boarding pass barcode reading websites, a stranger could pull all kinds of information like your fare class, flight time, full name and seat number.

“It may be pretty glamorous to have a picture of your boarding pass on social media,” says Daraius Dubash of Million Mile Secrets. But, “most people don’t realize that the one barcode has a lot of important information and it can be easily deciphered.”

 “A quick search for #boardingpass on Instagram shows tens of thousands of posts revealing boarding passes… over sharing makes travelers more vulnerable to identity theft,” says Michael Bruemmer, VP of Consumer Protection for Experian. “With simple information from a boarding pass such as the booking number, it’s possible for a hacker to gain access to the traveler’s seat number, frequent flyer details, fare paid and last four digits of the credit card number used to purchase the ticket.”
 Talk about damage. Besides the scary privacy implications, airline boarding pass hacking could also put your next vacation at risk. If someone can decipher your address, they can access your frequent flyer account, call the airline and change your flight. Since most accounts are linked to an address, they can usually find out this information directly from the boarding pass itself.