No. 779



If you take a vacation where you stay in a hotel or motel, or if you are part of the traveling public, you will be interested in what I want to share with you today. Of course there is always the possibility that you may already have this information and, if so, that’s good because we all need to know it.
Some time back a friend sent me some information that was news to me, and this is a case of where what you don’t know, can hurt you. It has to do with the information that is on that little card that hotel and motel people give you to open the door.
If you have never thought about the information that is on hotel key cards, here is what some may contain: 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! After receiving this information I checked it out on and they say this is a myth and is false. However, don’t be so sure. is not always accurate, as evidenced by another article reported in later conceded that the report about hotels encoding key cards with personalized information was confused with another, much more legitimate story – that of identity thieves stealing key cards and turning them into “clone” credit cards and using personal data that had been taken from other sources. This was just saving face.
Here is a story that has some creditability. In Nevada, Deputy Attorney General Tracey Brierly saw some evidence with her own eyes. Brierly attended a High Technology Crime Investigation Association conference in South Lake Tahoe. The 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,” Brierly said. “I had no idea this was even a possibility.” Of course, the hotel industry denies there is anything treacherous about the keys.
The bottom line is simply this: why take a chance? Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. Never leave them behind or in the room or waste basket, 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 information on that card that could easily be lifted off with any simple 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 the airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip.
Here is a simple solution, and it only requires a little advanced thinking and planning. When you travel, always carry a small magnet with you and pass it across the magnetic strip several times when you are ready to leave the room for the last time. Then try it in the door. It will not work, as the magnet erases everything on the card.
As I thought about this, here is what came to mind. You need more than a magnetic personality, you need a real magnet. To be sure, there is more here than meets the eye. I am always reluctant to share this kind of information, but there are people out there who are just plain thieves, and all too willing to take from others to meet their own selfish ends.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

The next password is bean