Electronic Keycards At Hoax Hotel

This story, via email, is an old one but quite good all the same.

As you probably know, many hotels now use electronic cards instead of traditional keys.

electronic-keycards

If you believe the email below, that leads to a whole host of potential problems for the customers though…

Just received this and thought it was worth sending around — with so much identity theft going around, makes sense!!

Remember this for the future:

You know how when you check out of a hotel that uses the credit-card-type room key, the clerk often will ask if you have your key(s) to turn in…or there is a box or slot on the Reception counter in which to put them? It’s good for the hotel because they save money by re-using those cards.

But, it’s not good for you, as revealed below.

From the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

“Southern California law enforcement professionals assigned to Detect new threats to personal security issues, recently discovered what type of information is embedded in the credit card type hotel room keys used throughout the industry.

Although room keys differ from hotel to hotel, a key obtained from the “Double Tree” chain that was being used for a regional Identity Theft Presentation was found to contain the following the information:

a.. Customers (your) name
b.. Customers partial home address
c.. Hotel room number
d.. Check in date and check out date
e.. Customer’s (your) credit card number and expiration date!

When you turn them in to the front desk your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An employee can take a hand full of cards home and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.

Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee re-issues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest’s information is electronically “overwritten” on the card and the previous guest’s information is erased in the overwriting process. But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT!!!!

The bottom line is: Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. NEVER leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and NEVER turn them in to the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you for the card (it’s illegal) and you’ll be sure you are not leaving a lot of valuable personal information on it that could be easily lifted off with any simple scanning device card reader. For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip!

Of course the above is not really anything to worry about – its a hoax that has been in circulation for some time now.

If you stay in a hotel you really don’t need to be so paranoid about the security of your keycard though you should, of course, not invite burglars by leaving it lying around!

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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