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TSA is Sharing Your Travel Plans with Debt Collectors

 by Ruth Schneider   Posted on November 3 2013

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TSA, NSA, FBI it feels like the world's acronyms are digging into our personal lives in ways that are starting to feel a little too personal.

The Transportation Security Agency is collecting a whole lot more about us than our airline meal preferences, according to a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

For years, the TSA has conducted background checks on travelers including name, gender and date of birth, which were then compared with terror watch lists.

The new measures -- which are already in effect -- go several steps further. Now the government can mine information using a traveler's passport number, accessing databases maintained by Homeland Security.

I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly, Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, told The New York Times. The Identity Project is a nonprofit that works to defend the First Amendment right to freedom of movement and travel.

The information isn't just shared with government agencies -- it's shared with private companies, too. Like debt collectors.

An update to the TSA's Transportation Security Enforcement Record System, which tracks information about travelers accused of "violations or potential violations" of security regulations, notes the data might be shared with "a debt collection agency for the purpose of debt collection."

Essentially, if you are late on your credit card payment, the TSA can give a heads up to debt collectors when you plan a cross-country trip. That could leave many Americans thinking twice about air travel.

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