Iowans with plans to travel this holiday season may be spooked by an e-mail that’s warning hotel customers to cut up their card. The subject is the increasingly common keycard that’s replaced metal door keys in many motels and hotels. A widely circulated e-mail warns that your personal and credit info is coded onto that plastic card for anyone to swipe…but innkeeper Steve Cridlebaugh says it’s not so. Cridlebaugh, who’s assistant manager at Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston, says the plastic keycards are programmed at the front desk and carry a room number and the checkout date, when the card will expire. After that date the card won’t work to open any door in the hotel’s connected system, and Cridlebaugh says it’s better than standard room keys. A key card is more secure, he says, because the lock can’t be picked and if a guest loses a key the hotel doesn’t have to re-key every lock in every door to prevent the use of the key. The e-mail warning that allegedly comes from police in Pasadena, California, tells you to cut up the plastic card instead of returning it to the front desk at checkout because your personal and credit information could be taken off it for identity theft. Cridlebaugh says if that was ever true of old keycard systems, it’s not true today. The cards don’t have any personal information on them, just a code from the computer that says which room the key will open and for how long it will work, nothing about the user. He says there’s no personal information, and they’re not capable of holding any, he says. Cridlebaugh’s employer, Stoney Creek Inn, is based in Mason City and has opened hotels in Johnston and Waukon, as well as some in Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.
You are here: / / Hotel card e-mail just a hoax