If you’re flying home for the holidays, you might want to hang on to your boarding pass.
While many travelers say they throw tickets away, leave them in hotels and even misplace passes on flights, security experts advise shredding them instead.
According to CBS Boston, some boarding passes have personal information concealed in the barcode, including frequent flyer account numbers.
“So on the ticket itself, it’s blanked out, but if you look on the barcode, the entire number is listed,” forensic expert, Winston Krone, tells CBS.
Not everyone has frequent flyer miles, but he says stealing that data could lead to larger security breaches on other accounts.
Valerie Ugarno allowed Krone to use her boarding pass in an experiment at a Boston airport.
He simply used a cell phone app, scanned her ticket and guessed her favorite sports team before being granted access to her frequent flier account.
Krone believes hacking into her account is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what real damage tech-savvy criminals can do.
“We also could see her home address, her personal telephone number, her personal email address,” Krone explains. “Great stuff for further attacks if we wanted to try to get into her bank account. This would have been a great start.”
What’s worse is that people are willingly putting their boarding passes on display for all of social media to see.
A quick search on Instagram using the hashtag “boarding pass” resulted in nearly 60,000 photos, many of which had their barcodes exposed.
In a culture where sharing every little detail of your life might seem important, experts say revealing too much about your trip could make both your personal information and your home a target.
Burglary victim, Lavern Cheatheam tells ABC News her home was wiped clean after her daughter posted photos of their family trip to Las Vegas.
“You gotta be careful,” Cheatheam recalls. “You think posting and checking in wherever you go is fun, but you are actually letting people know — hey I am gone. Go over there and take what you want.”
Basically it boils down to this: be aware when you’re traveling.
Whether you print your boarding pass or send it to your phone, find a way to completely eliminate it when you’ve arrived at your destination.