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Registered Flyers Face Background Checks

January 20, 2006 By: Susan Young Travel Agent

Airline passengers who buy a pre-approved security pass could have their credit histories and property records examined as part of the government's plan to turn over the Registered Traveler program to private companies. With a Registered Traveler card, a frequent flier could zip through security lines more quickly, but to get the card they'd have to pay a fee, pass a government background check and submit 10 fingerprints in the program, which will begin June 20. Passengers might not even have to take shoes or coats off, or remove laptop computers from cases. TSA has already tested the program at five airports, but it now wants private companies to run the popular program. Before the companies are allowed to sell Registered Traveler cards, they will have to demonstrate that they can determine if an applicant could be a member of a terrorist sleeper cell, and to do that they'll have to diligently review bank records, insurance data and other personal information. The question is whether private firms will take the time and care to do so. In addition, privacy advocates wonder about misuse of personal information. One private company is already running the Registered Traveler test program at the Orlando (Fla.) Airport. Verified Identity Pass.

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