Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Q. What could a boarding pass tell an identity fraudster about you?

The Guardian Online has a very interesting special report on identity theft, using a discarded boarding pass to track down huges troves of information on the poor guy who discarded it. It's a tale of how much information is collected and how easy it is for bad guys to get ahold of it. Read on:

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Q. What could this boarding pass tell an identity fraudster about you? A. Way too much:

"... We logged on to the BA website, bought a ticket in Broer's name and then, using the frequent flyer number on his boarding pass stub, without typing in a password, were given full access to all his personal details - including his passport number, the date it expired, his nationality (he is Dutch, living in the UK) and his date of birth. The system even allowed us to change the information.

Using this information and surfing publicly available databases, we were able - within 15 minutes - to find out where Broer lived, who lived there with him, where he worked, which universities he had attended and even how much his house was worth when he bought it two years ago. (This was particularly easy given his unusual name, but it would have been possible even if his name had been John Smith. We now had his date of birth and passport number, so we would have known exactly which John Smith.) ..."

1 comment:

Palema said...

Since 9-11 I have been afraid to fly. Not afraid of terrorists -- I feel somewhat fatalistic about being blown up -- but fear of the US government.

The best defense against snoops, in my opinion, is to stay grayly in the middle, have no credit cards (and as poor a credit rating as you can stand).

Even so, I know you could easily find out my name, where I live, how much my house is worth, my political opinions and more.

It is my hope than no one is interested.