Monday, June 12, 2006

Hotel Key Cards Do NOT Store Your Personal Information

There's sort of an urban legend out there that says hotels are putting your personal info on those key cards you use to get in your room. For a while this was attributed to a warning from the Pasadena Police Department (which denies ever issuing this warning), and was stoked a bit by this article last year.

In reality, hotels only link your key card back to their computers to know which card corresponds to what room, and if you don't take the card with youat the end of the trip, no one will be scanning it to use your credit card number. If you think about this for a moment, having your credit card number on the key card wouldn't even matter anyway, unless you lost the card. Hotel employees already have your credit card number at the front desk and could steal it that way if they wanted to. But, no matter. Your info's not on there.

This rumor seems to have come about because some criminals do get their hands on hotel key cards and then reprogram with credit card information that they have stolen by other means. So, if someone manages to find out your card number, they could use a blank hotel key card, program the card with your numbers, and use that card at an ATM machine to withdraw cash (assuming they also knew your PIN). But that's a longshot, and it certainly has nothing to do with anything the hotel has done.


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