Hotel Scam in Thailand

Scam Alert

Whether the following information may be a magnetic key card hotel scam or not, it's always best to be on full alert and to expect the unexpected when next on your holiday in Thailand. Or for that matter whenever you book yourself into any luxury hotel abroad. Most budget hotels still carry the old key in the door method, so there's no need to be overly concerned other than to turn your key properly in such a way as to make sure the door is locked whenever you leave the room.

As a precaution should you know that the hotel of your stay will be issuing you with a magnetic key card, you might like to bring along a small fridge magnet. It may just come in handy and I will tell you why in a moment.

Has it ever occurred to you exactly what kind of information is contained on these key cards other than an access code for the room you have been allocated. For many of us, we may never even give it a second thought. And the idea our personal information being included on the card is as far away as the country from which we came. I certainly didn't have a clue, but the more you travel the more streetwise you need to become.

Apart from a room number, additional information entered on the hotel key card includes the client's name, check-in and check-out dates, client's credit card number and expiration date as well as a partial home address. Bet you didn't know that.

Hotel Scam Precautions

As much as this is unavoidable, there are precautions you can take regarding your personal information. When checking out of your hotel, just don't hand in your key card. Because once you leave the premise any employee can simply scan the card on the hotel scanner or he or she can take home a bunch of these cards and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and then go shopping at your expense. You may only discover this once you are at home.

To put this in simple terms, hotels do not necessarily erase the information on these cards until such time as an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At which time, the new customer information would be electronically over-written on the card. At the same time, your information will be erased in the overwriting process.

However,  until the card you were originally given, is rewritten for the next guest, it's usually kept in a drawer at the front desk. All the while, your information remains on the card. A worrying thought no doubt.

So what have we learned from all this! The bottom line would simply be to keep whatever key card you were issued with and to take it home with you. Or alternatively just destroy the card. But whatever you do, do not leave the card behind in the room or toss it away in a room wastebasket.

How to Abort a Key Card Hotel Scam

Hotel management I believe will not charge you for any lost or destroyed key cards. This way you can be assured that you will not be leaving any valuable and or personal information behind after you leave, that which could very easily be lifted later off a simple scanning card reader device.

For the exact same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover that you still have the key card in your possession, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Rather, take the card home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip.

As a simple test, swipe the magnetic side of your fridge magnet several times across the magnetic strip of your key card and then try opening the door with it. As much as you try, it will not work. All the information on the card will have been erased.

The information regarding this magnetic key card hotel scam was supplied courtesy of the Metropolitan Police Service.

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