What is stored on a hotel key card?
After sleuthing the internet and making some enquiries, the answers were varied and have lead to a conclusion that it all depends on the hotel you stay at. Every hotel will deny they keep your personal information on the card.
The most common system in place encodes your key card with an access code to your room, your name, address and phone number. Hotels which have bars dining areas can store more information on your card, such as an encrypted code that is unscrambled when swiped through their machine at the counter to reveal your credit card details on their screen to be charged to. When you check in, always ask the staff to put a “Do not charge to room or card” warning on your account incase you lose your card.
The answer to the question is, you don’t know what is being stored on your hotel key card. In 2006, at a High Technology Crime Investigation Association conference in USA, a speaker asked for volunteers to provide their credit-card style room keys, the ones with the magnetic stripe. Five or six people provided their keys, and the speaker swiped them through a credit card reader. Two of the keys brought up a name and partial address, and another one brought up a name, address and credit card number. Since then, the hotel industry has put measures in place to prevent mishaps like this, but it can still happen.
What can you do to prevent your information falling into the wrong hands?
– Hold your mobile phone close to the key card and make a phone call, the signal of a mobile phone can wipe the information from a key card
– Always hand your key card in at the hotel desk on check out
– If there is no fine for taking the key card, cut up the key card into pieces before you leave