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Hotel Keycard Urban Legend Comes Back... But With Attribution

from the have-things-chaned? dept

A couple years ago, an urban legend started spreading like wildfire that the hotel keycards you get contained all sorts of unencrypted information about you, including your credit card number and home address. It scared a bunch of folks for a while until it was pretty thoroughly debunked by Snopes and others. However, it's now back. Computerworld is bringing the story back with almost all of the same details -- but with one major exception. The writer there actually has a source: a Peter Wallace, who is apparently the IT Director at AAA Reading-Berks in Wyomissing, Penn. Wallace, apparently, carries a cheap card reader when he travels and has found a few hotels that he says do record much of the info that was rumored (and denied by many, many hotels) years ago. So, were the hotels lying? Did the urban legend give them the bright idea? Or is the story being mis-reported once again? The Computerworld writer doesn't say how he found this info out from Wallace, or suggest why a hotel would ever want to include such info on a card when there's almost no actual reason to do so.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 4:40am

    No Hotels are named the original report, just "certain chains", so hoax, hoax, hoax, hoax, hoax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 4:59am

    Peter Wallace seems genuine

    ...see Google. I wonder if he saw the press release before it was issued?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 5:01am

    No Subject Given

    Somehow advising people to shred swipe cards doesn't sound like reasonable advice. Hotels reprogram the cards for the next guest and expect you to turn them back in. Somehow I have the feeling this is being greatly exaggerated. Again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Patrick R Sweeney, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 5:54am

    Um - Duh

    It's a blog entry formatted to look like a computerworld article. Take a look at the URL. probably just another hoax. Buy a $39 cardreader and find out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    YI Lan, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 7:45am

    More card info

    It's a reporter blog, not an article. The author has a follow up entry this morning

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    STJ, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 7:53am

    No Subject Given

    OK, I work for a major hotel and we have a box that is used to program the keys. we put in what room number, how long, if it is a copy or not, and how many keys. The box is independent of the computer system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Robert Mitchell, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 9:00am

    Hotel Card Keys

    Regarding the hotel key information on Computerworld's Web site, that was indeed an observation in my blog and not a reported story. It's a snippet of information gleaned while talking to Wallace for another topic. Often during reporting interesting asides come up and my blog is a good place to drop those snippets from time to time. I have no reason to think that Wallace would make any of this up. It was simply a side comment he made. Wallace won't say which hotels, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out that a few smaller chains have this problem. But one doesn't have to take his word for it. There's an easy way to find out if he's right, isn't there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    K, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 10:58am

    Re: Hotel Card Keys

    What kind of journalist writes something, then leaves it to his readers to find out whether it's factually correct or not? Either do the reporting yourself, or don't write it. The blog format is no excuse for misreporting anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    eeyore, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Hotel Card Keys

    Considering how many times this story has been debunked over the past few years I think I'd confirm it before I wrote it. If it were true it'd be an important story, but we'll never know because you didn't bother to research it beyond quoting a second-hand reference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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