Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hotel key cards

Someone sent me this this morning. The information purports to originate from the Metropolitan Police. I have tried doing a search on it and have found umpteen other identical posts, each making the same claim. I have yet to find something official from the Metropolitan Police, and their own site seems to have no such article.

I wondered whether anyone else had more insight into the situation, since I know a great many of us travel often and stay in hotels around the world.


Ever wonder what is on your magnetic key card?

a. Customer's name
B. Customer's partial home address
c. Hotel room number
d. Check-in date and out dates
e.Customer's 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 reissues 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 into 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!

If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. Then try it in the door, it will not work. It erases everything on the card.

Information courtesy of: Metropolitan Police Service.
So, what do you reckon? Is this another wild conspiracy theory?


Stephen Downes said...

Urban myth. Read more at the (always useful) Snopes.

Andy Roberts said...

Snopes says:


Mark Berthelemy said...

Hi Karyn,

This is a hoax.

See: Washington Post for what criminals really are doing with key cards.

See: Snopes and Trend Micro for the hoax warnings.

The upsycho said...

Thanks folks, I hadn't heard of Snopes before. I will certainly be paying regular visits going forward. I have one relative who sends me these things on a regular basis. He means well... and that's exactly what the hoax-mongers depend on.

@Mark Your link to the Washington Post article isn't working. Do you mean this one?

Hotel Key Cards said...

As you mention in your post that you haven't find this information in the metropolitan police site. I think this going to be false. If this one is true then they are also mention in their site as well.

Unknown said...

I think this email ahs been circulated by the producers of these plastic keys.

If guests take away these keys, these guys will sell more. However, this will add to the pollution of our planet as more plastic will find its way into the garbage bins