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Have you seen my new Safeway card?

When we got the new magnetic stripe <a href="http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8633">readers</a> and <a href="http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8634">writers</a>, we didn't really expect to see them work so easily!

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When we got the new magnetic stripe readers and writers, we didn't really expect to see them work so easily! A quick swipe of the credit card or ID and out pops a character stream containing the credit card number on one card, the address of the person on the ID, or my safeway club account number on my rickety old Safeway card. There's no encryption, which makes sense when you think about it. Every mag stripe card should work with any mag stripe reader, regardless of card vendor or type of encryption algorithm. It was just a bit of a surprise.

Now don't get me wrong - I am very aware of credit card theft and all the bad things that a person could do with a mag strip writer. But think of all the fun stuff we can do! With this writer I am able to resurrect my safeway card; the old one was a bit worn out. Now I can create a perfectly new card! But maybe that new card isn't quite perfect, and my safeway account number changes... What's Kroger going to do with itself if it doesn't know I'm buying my weekly dose of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Mmmm... cinnamon milk.
My new account!
Just an FYI - my Safeway club card was actually the only card in my wallet I found I could change. Our magnetic card writer is a LoCo writer (low coercivity). I guess the Safeway grocery card is a cheaper type. So the next time you need to create a handful of time clock ID cards, you might consider signing up for a handful of free Blockbuster accounts and then rewriting the strips to work with your time clock system.

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