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Risk of Not Destroying Your Boarding Pass After Flying

Brandon Becker travels for work, a lot. He recently passed through Miami International Airport on his way home to Tampa after flying from city to city during the past seven weeks.

In that time, he's handled dozens of his boarding passes, "I tend to usually stuff it in a bag, throw it in the trash, didn't give a lot of thought to it. Sometimes I don't know what ends up happening to it."

But not treating your boarding pass as you do other personal documents can put your sensitive information at risk.

Florida International University's Director of the School of Computing & Information Sciences, Dr. S.S. Iyengar, said cyber criminals keep getting better at stealing bank accounts, identity and credit card data. A boarding pass can be another avenue to get private information.

"The barcode has other related information, maybe social security, driver license and address," said Dr. Iyengar. It also contains your frequent flyer account, email, phone number as well as future travel plans. He urges everyone to guard their boarding pass as if it were a credit card.

"Having access to this kind of information for a hacker is the most dangerous thing, that anyone can think of," Dr. Iyengar said.

Plantation Cyber Security firm, Thales, demonstrates how easy it is to get information from some airline barcodes.

Juan Asenjo with Thales downloaded a barcode scanner application onto his smartphone. Within minutes, it revealed personal information.

Asenjo said that information along with a search of social media or even a Google search can leave you exposed to fraudsters who want to hijack your information.

"People out there trying to commit fraud are getting quite good at this and any additional piece of information volunteered essentially just ends up helping them to do that job," Thales said.

The International Air Transport Association provides voluntary barcode guidelines in their manual for airlines.

In a statement a spokesperson wrote, "Each airline makes its own decisions with regard to security protocols for accessing member frequent flyer accounts. IATA does not have a role in this."

Brandon said he'll guard his boarding pass better now, but he told us he's not happy to know his personal information could be lifted from an airline bar code.

"If something like that happened, I would be pretty upset, and I would hold them responsible."

Both of our cyber security experts suggest travelers take the extra step to shred a boarding pass once you no longer need them.

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