Lowell Deeds

The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell

August 24, 2005

Hotel Keys & ID Theft

by @ 10:02 am. Filed under Technology

Knowing of our interest in all things related to identity theft, a reader forwarded an article that reported on an investigation in California (where state government has taken an extremely aggressive posture towards identity theft) into identity theft at hotels. You know that plastic swipe card you are now given in lieu of a standard room key: well besides the information needed to open the door to your hotel room, it also has in many cases, your name, your home address, your hotel room number, your check in and check out dates and . . . your credit card number and expiration date. That information stays on that plastic room key/card until it is reformatted for the next hotel guest’s use. In the meantime, your information sits there, waiting for someone with a run of the mill magnetic strip reader (many makes and models available at affordable prices on eBay) to siphon your credit card number and head off on a spending spree. The express checkout routine at many hotels urges you to leave your key in the room and merely call the front desk when you depart. That leaves the card available to anyone who gains access to your room after you leave. Even worse, it turns out, is dropping the card in the wooden box at the front desk. From there, an unscrupulous employ can grab a handful of cards and cultivate identity information. The hotels are prohibited from charging you for a card that is not turned in, so this article advises travelers to bring the cards home and snip them up. Then again, you could always stay home.

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