3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

New ID theft concerns at the airport

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Thieves can find valuable information in the trash at the airport (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Thieves can find valuable information in the trash at the airport (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
3 On Your Side recommends to shred boarding documents at home (Source: KPHO/KTVK) 3 On Your Side recommends to shred boarding documents at home (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Sky Harbor Airport is certainly a busy place. On any given day, an estimated 120,000 travelers will pass through the airport and many of them will have boarding passes, which these days can be gold for a thief.

"Cyber criminals and ID thieves, they're really looking for bits of information so this could start them down a path of finding you on twitter, finding you on Facebook, finding you on LinkedIn and start to build a case around you," Ken Colburn with the Data Doctors said.

Colburn is a computer and technology expert who says travelers shouldn't toss their boarding passes into public trash cans because an identity thief can retrieve them and come up with all kinds of information.

Some passengers like Samantha Scalf who say they heard about that and are more careful these days.

"I would leave it in my purse until I get home and I’ll discard it in my house," Scalf said.

American Airlines agrees.

"We recommend that customers treat their boarding pass with care and dispose of it after use like any other important document," said the airliner said in a statement to 3 On Your Side.

Delta likes the advice too, saying, "Travelers should treat a boarding pass like they would a bank receipt or any other document of importance."

"Don't become a victim, don't throw these things away. Hang on to them," Colburn adds.

A 3 On Your Side producer tagged along with Colburn and dug through some airport trash cans. What we found was surprising. Not only did we retrieve boarding passes with names, but we also found sensitive travel information.

"It’s got the confirmation on it," Colburn said.

In a matter of minutes, 3 On Your Side found a complete travel schedule for a man who was traveling out of Phoenix with a stay over in Las Vegas.

We found his hotel information, his home address, his flight information, his Rapid Rewards number and even a partial credit card number. All that information in the wrong hands could be problematic.

And remember with this information, an identity thief can find you on social media like Twitter or Facebook to see if you posted something about how long you'll be traveling.

That's valuable information, for say a thief who wants to break into your home.

Outside the airport we found the same thing. In fact, one traveler left behind his complete rental car agreement for Colburn to read over.

"Within a few minutes, we were able to determine this gentleman most likely lives in New Orleans," Colburn said. "He's a platinum member, flew Southwest."

Colburn says the best way to protect yourself is wait until you're home where you can shred all of those important documents.

"We've only spent a few minutes here and have come across complete itineraries," Colburn said. "We've come across these rental car agreements, boarding passes. There's tons of stuff. If we were doing this for a living, we'd probably have a whole lot of homework to do tonight to decide who's our victim going to be today."

Again, to avoid becoming a victim, always make sure you hang on to all of your travel documents no matter how insignificant you think they are and shred them when you can.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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