Why You Should Never Just Throw Away Your Boarding Pass

Even though it doesn’t seem like it, airlines these days have been trying to make travel more convenient for their customers. For example, in recent years, almost every airline carrier has rolled out the QR codes to both paper and e-tickets.

It was originally done with the intention to speed up the check-in process and allow passengers to have an easier time confirming any changes in flight schedules, but this code of convenience has actually opened up a who new market for cybercrime.  

As it turns out, almost anyone who has access to the QR code on either a paper or e-ticket, even if just briefly for a few seconds, can end up gaining access to personal information such as your first and last name, flight number, seat number, and frequent flier information.

While your initial reaction might be, “Big deal. What isn’t private anymore, anyways?” It would be wise to think again. While on the surface this information may seem rather trivial, the reality is that once they have these key pieces, hackers would be able to login into most airline websites as “you”.

This means that they can then see your flight history – including any upcoming flights you may have scheduled. They can also cancel existing reservations in order to gain access to your credit card information. And that is the really the concerning part when someone has access to your financial information.

The reality is quite scary, considering that not only could a person ruin you financially, they could also physically harm you if they so wished. Picture it: an unhinged stranger picking up a discarded boarding pass which now gives them access to all the intimate details of a person…scary stuff.

So you may be wondering how a QR code has the ability to reveal personal information? It turns out that there are actually dozens and dozens of barcode scanning apps available for free or very little cost. And, just to clarify, just because a person may have one of these apps on their smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re up to something nefarious. Many of these apps were originally made to help sturdy up QR code scanning processes that may be tough due to lighting, limited features on other apps, or other barriers in information consolidation. Unfortunately, thieves have become wise to the fact that all they need is one of these codes in order to access a passenger’s most private information. So therefore it’s important to keep those codes hidden.

When you’re at the airport, it’s smart to treat your ticket like an extension of your wallet or phone – keep it close to you at all times and don’t place it somewhere that would be easy to lift it. Also, once you arrive at your destination, it’s a good idea to tear it up before throwing it away.  

And it’s also a good idea to NEVER upload a photo of your boarding pass to social media, even if it’s a private account, because some of the scanning apps can actually allow thieves to access the QR codes from screen shots alone. Terrifying!

Also, you should know that this isn’t just restricted to air travel. In fact, any type of item that has a QR code and is connected to you either by name, address, credit card, etc. can open you up to a risky situation.

Learn even more about these QR code-related crimes by watching the video below. If you wish to learn more about these QR code-fraud crimes, watch the video below. And remember to stay vigilant.

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