Scam of the day – December 5, 2015 – Identity theft threats at the airport

Identity theft dangers are everywhere, but particularly at busy airports during the upcoming holidays, the threat of identity theft is increased in surprising ways.  People are quick to dispose of their boarding passes after they have landed by merely tossing them into a trash receptacle, but your boarding pass barcode can be easily decoded by an identity thief who retrieves your discarded boarding pass from which he can gain much information including information about your frequent flier account which can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

Another identity theft problem cropping up at airports is one about which I first warned you more than three years ago and that is the danger posed by credit cards with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology embedded in microchips in the card.  The cards can be used for purchases by merely waving  the card within a few inches of a remote card reader used by retailers.  Unfortunately, however, retailers aren’t the only people reading smart cards.  Identity thieves with  small, remote card reader in their pocket only need to be within about ten inches of the wallet you are carrying in your pocket or purse to be able to read the information on the card without you ever being aware that your information is being read and stolen.  Some smart card issuers are being smart themselves and encrypting the data on your card so that an identity thief would need to be able to decode the information to make it useful.  However, there are simple precautions you can take to protect the information on your smart card from being stolen.


As for your boarding pass, the best protection is to shred the boarding pass once you no longer need it rather than merely toss it into a waste basket.

In regard to protecting your smart credit card with RFID tehnology, enterprising entrepreneurs have created new thin wallets made out of aluminum which will block the card readers used by identity thieves and prevent identity theft.  These are a good choice.  Some people merely wrap their credit cards in aluminum foil before the put them in their wallet or purse and this too will effectively block illegal card reading.  Also, if you have a smart card, you should make sure that the issuer of your card encrypts the data on the card to make it even more difficult for an identity thief to get useful information.