Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is the Safe in your hotel room ... Safe?

Take a look at this YouTube video.

Shocked? Did you know that there was a default unlock combination for your hotel Safe? I never thought about it till I watched this video! But I guess it makes sense that there should be one ... what if you forgot the code you used to lock it?

I'll tell you why this happens. It's because some hotel managers are just too lazy! The default combination for these safes can be changed by the hotel management. But of course in a hotel with hundreds of rooms, there are hundreds of Safes and it would be quite a lot of work to reset the default unlock code for each one. So hotel management takes the easy way out - they just leave the default code at the original factory setting! What the hotel management SHOULD do, is to develop a protocol for the combination for the Safes in the rooms. The default should not be left at the factory setting because it means anyone can get into your safe. You never know who to trust. Separate codes should be set for the Safe in every room! And only the hotel manager should have access to the list of default unlock codes by room.

So how do you protect yourself? I would suggest the following steps:

  1. When you first check in, ask about the Safes in the rooms. Whether it is a Safe with a manual keyed lock or an electronic lock, you can be sure someone in the hotel has a backup key or unlock code in case you lose yours. Ask the front desk manager, "Who has access to the spare key or default unlock code to the Safe in my room?" You should know.
  2. When you enter your hotel room, be sure that a combination of zeroes does not unlock the Safe after you have locked it! Complain to the hotel management if you discover this flaw in their protocols.
  3. Most people travel with their digital cameras when on a trip. Take a picture of all your valuables that you are putting in the Safe just as you put them inside the Safe! While every hotel has a policy that states they are not responsible for the loss of your valuables, if you don't have any proof that you actually owned these items or that you actually put them inside the safe, you won't be able to "give them hell" if there is a theft. (Of course, you should keep the photos on an extra SD memory card that you store in your locked luggage, because you camera could be stolen).
  4. If you are unsure about the security of the Safe or the hotel's protocols, or if the Safe is not securely bolted to the wall, leave your valuables inside you suitcase and lock it with your own combination lock. Always travel with a sturdy lock just for this purpose!
  5. Before your trip, take photos of you valuables, take a scan of your Passport, drivers licenses, credit cards (front and back), and upload everything to a service like Amazon Cloud Drive. This way if anything is lost, or say your Passport  or documents are stolen, you always have the visual images of them that you can access at anytime. Don't store these images on an SD card because it could be lost or stolen with all of your valuable identification documents on it.
Has your hotel Safe ever been robbed? Do you have any tips for ensuring the security of your valuables while on vacation? Please share them using the Comment box below!

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