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Who Can Copy My Keys? What Does Do Not Duplicate Mean On A Key?

Today we are going to answer the question ‘Who Can Copy My Keys?’,’ What Does Do Not Duplicate Mean On A Key?’, and ‘What Is A Protected Key System?’.

Today we are going to be answering questions around do not duplicate keys. Our mission is to help you protect your people and your property, and keys are part of that protection.

Keys have one of two rules to either provide convenience or security.  

When security is the primary focus, a common question that is asked is ‘how do I keep people from copying my keys’ or ‘how can I know who has a copy of my keys?’ A common misconception is that if you stamp ‘do not duplicate’ or have keys printed with do not duplicate on them that it will protect against an authorized duplication or prevent from people getting a hold of your keys without your knowledge. 

We’re gonna put that idea to the test. We visited a local hardware store with a kiosk that allows you to duplicate keys without interacting with anyone. We took two different keys, both say do not duplicate. 

Let’s see what happens. 

Now that we’ve seen the video, you might have more questions like: ‘Is it illegal to copy keys without permission?’ Can Anyone Copy My Key?’ ‘Why would one key copy and work and why would the other give an error message what are the difference between the two? Why should I care if somebody can copy my key at a kiosk? What should I do if I don’t want people to copy my key at a kiosk? Will this ever change? Will those protected keys ever be able to be copied at a kiosk?  We will learn what it means to have Do Not Duplicate on a key.

What Does ‘Do Not Duplicate’ Mean On A Key? In the locksmith business, we are asked to stamp this phrase on countless keys for homes and businesses and it always brings up the question: Why do people request this? This is a tactic known to many as a visual deterrent. In other words, it is something that gives the appearance of security to ward off potential wrongdoers. The most common example of this is a scarecrow on a field of crops, which derives its name from the fact that it is a visual deterrent in order to scare the crows from eating or damaging the crops. Unfortunately, in the case of securing our businesses with locks and keys, the perpetrators are not birds, and it takes a bit more than a few words to scare them away.

The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) says, “Do Not Duplicate Keys: Orders for keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or similar wording will be handled in the same manner as any unrestricted key. ALOA members should inform the consumer that the use of keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or similar wording, is not effective security, and further that the use of such words is deceptive because it provides a false sense of security. Consumers who desire effective security should purchase a patented key control system rather than rely on a “Do Not Duplicate” marking. This does not apply to keys protected by law.

Unfortunately, stamping Do Not Duplicate on a key means nothing unless it is a protected key system.

What Is A Protected Key System? One of the unique identifiers for Loc Doc Security has been the Protected Key Systems we offer through Medeco. Medeco offers products that are Restricted, meaning they are only licensed to specific dealers.  Loc-Doc, Inc is a dealer of Medeco products.  If we generate a Medeco key, the only way to get additional copies is by requesting it through us.  No other locksmith company has access to our records, our keys or our systems.  When we get a key request, they are checked and validated through the proper authorization contact on the account before any additional copies are made.  We highly value and protect our restricted key system. Many times in a business, the value of the facility is not reflected in the quality and security of the locks meant to keep them safe.

Here are 3 reasons a Protected Key System can benefit your business.

1) Security of Key Blanks: The first benefit of a Protected Key System is that your keys are patented and restricted. This means that your key provider is the only vendor with access to your key blanks. These are made specifically for your locks and no one else’s, and no other locksmiths can get the information or blanks to your locks. There are some locks that are so common that it is incredibly easy to get a key blank to fit it, as well as make a key that will work it. Not so with a Protected System, to even get a key blank you must go through the vendor.

2) Duplication Control: The second benefit of a Protected Key System is Duplication Control. This is an important point for many reasons; with a standard blank, anyone can walk into a Lowe’s or Home Depot, place the key into a machine, and Voila! a copy of the key to your commercial facility (Yes, even if it says Do Not Duplicate!) is produced. However, with a Protected Key System like Medeco M3, we would only cut keys for you or any one you personally authorize to request keys.

3) Audit Trail: Another benefit of controlling your keys is keeping track of key requests and how many keys have been copied. In your business you may have several people within your organization who needs certain keys. Because we are the only vendor who has access to your key blank, we can also keep track of who requested which key, and how many keys are currently in circulation. When a key is lost or unaccounted for, you can come to us and quickly get an audit trail of who is responsible for the loss or which keys are missing.

Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s all have self serve kiosk that allow anyone in possession of any non-restricted key (meaning open market key blanks) to walk up, put the key in the machine and duplicate them without any validation.

There are also a number of smart phone apps, including KeyMe which allow anyone in possession of any non-restricted key to take 2 pictures (Front and Back) of the key and request a copy to be mailed to them without the key even leaving the property.  This can be a great resource and an incredible tool to use, but it also opens up the possibility for unauthorized duplication.

With a Protected key system in place, you will have a patented key system that is protected by law from unauthorized duplication.  Ask yourself, What is your home or business worth to you? When you look at your key system, does it reflect that worth? We can help you protect your people and property with protected key systems. Not sure where to start or if you have a protected key system? Book a free evaluation with our team below!

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