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Urban Myth

A persistent rumor making the rounds says that the electronically encrypted key cards used by many hotels as hotel room keys are a source of identity theft. The rumor says that encoded on your key card is your name, your home address, your hotel room number, your check-in and check-out date, as well as your credit card number. According to the rumor, when you turn in your key at the end of your stay, you run the risk of unscrupulous employees using portable scanners to take that information, most notably your name and credit card number, off the key card and use it to your detriment. The basis for the rumor comes from an alert issued by Pasadena, California Police Detective Sergeant Kathryn Jorge according to www.mybend.com, who is quoted as saying, “In years past, existing software would prompt the user (employee) for information input. If the employee was unaware of hotel police dictating that such information not be entered, it could have ended up on the card in error.” However, she also went on to say, “Since this subject came up, experiments on newer cards have failed to duplicate the problem.” Hotel operators say that no personal information that would pose an identity theft risk is used on key cards today, and some say there never was. They say that the only information that ever was imbedded in the key card was the name of the hotel guest, the number of the room, the check-in date, and the check-out date. This last bit of information keeps the key card from being used on the particular room after the guest's hotel stay is completed.


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