The last time the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series, I was lucky enough to get a seat for game 4 against the dreaded Boston Red Sox. I was unlucky in that it was also the night Kolten Wong was picked off first base to end the game, a first in World Series history.
I guess it could have been worse. I might not have made it there at all. In my excitement of scoring a ticket, getting a day off work to fly back to my hometown for the game, and stuffing myself into an insane amount of red apparel — then posting a pic of me and my ticket to Facebook — I might have lost entry to the game.
That’s what a high school friend informed me on the thread of my giddy social media post, fortunately after I had passed through the turnstile at Busch Stadium. Someone could have duped my ticket, gained access ahead of me, and I would have been shut out way before Wong was shut down.
This apparently happens fairly often, enough times that by 2016 Ticketmaster posted a warning “Cover the Code: The Do’s & Don’ts of Sharing Ticket Pics Online.” Calling it a “fan’s worst nightmare,” Ticketmaster described my scenario of posting a ticket on social media with the far worse outcome of being turned away at the gate because “someone stole your tickets using the picture you posted online.” Citing the “one-of-a-kind barcode” on a paper or mobile ticket, it says, “if anyone acquires it they can make duplicate tickets to use or sell that render your tickets worthless.”
So now if I want to gloat on social media about going to an event (and I can’t wait to do that once events start happening again), I’ll cover the barcode — just as I cover my webcam on my laptop. It seems we’re always under threat of someone watching.
My expert knowledge about ticket fraud came into play last week when a friend sent me an FYI with pics of his newly Covid-19-vaccinated arm along with the valuable proof-of-jab card that goes along with it. He told me he was warned not to post the pic to social media, but wasn’t sure why, so he was showing me in a private email. I told my friend the concern was likely that showing a pic with his vaccine info and date of birth could be desirable bounty for a cyberthief.
It wasn’t long ago, pre-pandemic, when valuable currency while traveling was my United Gold frequent flyer card, in the unlikely event I might get an upgrade. Now people are coveting POV (proof of vaccine), on the theory the card will get us into places we haven’t been in over a year — concerts, stadiums and yes, 757s. Sadly, it could be valuable contraband.
I’m about to get my second vaccine, and I’ve been wondering how I’ll protect my valuable new health passport. My first thought was to laminate it, which became even more appealing when I read that Staples and Office Depot are offering that service for free for Covid-19 vaccination cards, which I found pleasantly surprising and smart.
But I can lose a card, laminated or not. I was wondering if there’s a mobile solution, like TSA Precheck, Global Entry or Clear, that expedites the screening process at airports. Even my United Gold card went virtual.
Clear, for one, is already on it. The secure identity platform, which uses iris and fingerprint scanning to prove your identity for quick passage through an airport secure line, says “you will soon be able to carry a digital vaccination record wherever you go.” That includes Covid tests, too. Clear isn’t cheap at $179 annually — vs. TSA PreCheck ($85) and Global Entry ($100) for five-year memberships — and it wasn’t clear from the website whether the Health Pass is an additional fee.
New York State is offering the free Excelsior Pass, billing it as “secure, digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” I first read about it on a neighborhood website. When I looked up Excelsior, I saw it’s available as a digital pass that I can store in my phone’s wallet; I can also have it printed out from the New York State website (and get it laminated if I want to).
According to the website, when I visit a business or venue that accepts the Excelsior Pass, it will scan the QR Code to ensure the pass is valid. Adults have to provide a matching photo ID with name and birth date to complete verification. Separate passes are available for Covid-19 vaccinations and negative Covid tests.
The neighbor who posted about Excelsior noted that his pass expires at midnight a month from the day he got it. He was confused by that and a little annoyed that he would have to do it all over in a month.
I checked the FAQs to see what gives, wondering if that was to prevent digital fraud, but I found the 30-day limit is due to health reasons: “COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease,” it said. “Given the ongoing presence of COVID-19 transmission in New York, Passes are only temporarily valid to protect everyone’s health. After a Pass expires, you will need to follow the requirements for retrieving a new Pass.”
That works for me. Whatever it takes to eradicate this viral monster. After my second poke, I’ll download the app and use the pass, if I need to, for the following 30 days, when it will stop working like Cinderella’s spell. Then I’ll happily re-up. But I won’t re-laminate every month, and I sure won’t post it to Facebook.