How to make sure your hotel safe really is secure… find out the secret flaw that could leave your valuables vulnerable

Where do you put your jewellery, cash and passports when you book into a hotel room? Anyone heading for the in-room safe should take a few minutes to read this… the lock-up box might not be the secure option you’re looking for.

A video released by a security blogger has revealed how a hotel safe could leave your valuables vulnerable to crooks.

The safe itself is secure, but if hotel staff have failed to carry out one vital stage of its installation, the unit could be opened and emptied in less than 30 seconds.

Here’s all you need to know about keeping your high-value goods, documents and cash safe while you enjoy your well-earned break.

What is the problem with using a hotel room safe?

There’s nothing wrong with the safe in your hotel room – it’s all about whether or not hotel staff have changed a few settings after it was installed.

What are the changes?

As we all know, once we’ve stashed our goodies in the hotel safe, we can change the code to create our own, seemingly, secure PIN to keep sticky fingers out while we head poolside to sup cocktails and the like.

The problem lies with the override code that every safe has. If the hotel has not changed this code at some point, the chances are it’s set with the original standard factory setting.

What is the override code?

Each safe has an override code that allows staff to quickly open the deposit box if guests forget their code. It also lets them reset it for the next guest using the room.


Check your safe before stashing valuables: Thinkstock

Why is the override code a problem?

The problem is, each safe will come with a standard factory-set code. This will be something like 999999,111111, 000000 or 1111, 9999, 0000, depending on the type of safe and who made it.

Once the safe is installed, hotel staff are expected to change the factory-set code to a unique set of numbers that can’t easily be guessed.

Unfortunately, many hotels inadvertently skip this stage and leave the factory-fit code in place.

This mean anyone entering the room can enter the override code and potentially open the safe – and clean it out.

What should I do?

Make sure you check that the override number has been changed before leaving any items in the safe. Simply do this by locking the safe and switching it to ‘super user’ mode. On most models you can do this by holding the ‘lock’ and ‘0’ buttons – watch the video for more details. Then simply enter all the codes (above) to see if it opens. If so, the safe has not had the factory-set override code reset.

Alternatively, you can ask the hotel manager to confirm the number has been reset.

What next?

If the code hasn’t been reset, simply ask a manager to make sure this is carried out – it will only take a few seconds. If this isn’t possible, you should consider alternative security measures for valuable.

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