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The Personal Checksum

By Steve Jones,

Restaurant ChecksumThis editorial was originally published on Nov 2, 2007. It is being republished as Steve is on vacation.

Someone sent me this article on foiling thieves in restaurants with a personal checksum. It's an interesting idea and while it could help, I'm sure there are some smart people that will find a way around it.

I don't reconcile my restaurant bills that closely, but I have an idea of what I've spent and I think that changing of bills rarely happens. I spent about 8 years in the restaurant business cooking, waiting tables, bartending, and managing at various times. I worked in all types of restaurants from diners to nightclubs and I've rarely seen anyone change a tab. It does happen, usually when someone is upset about their gratuity. But the person usually will brag about it to other employees and often you can tell when a ticket is changed.

I don't condone that behavior. If someone doesn't want to tip you, then they don't have to. On the other hand, if you're going out to a restaurant in the US, remember that those people work essentially for tips. They aren't paid minimum wage; they're paid less as an allowance against tips.

I'm not looking to start a restaurant debate, but with this being a Friday, I needed a poll and here it is:

What other useful personal checksums do you use?

Or do you need? Or do you wish someone would develop? Do you want some type of checksum on your credit score, something to tell you if it's been accessed or even correctly calculated? Does it make sense to have some type of calculation to determine if your mortgage is being correctly credited?

I'm not really sure what checksum I'd be looking for. To date I've had fairly good luck with security in my personal data and have had no real cause for concern.

The one interesting thing I would like is a way to get a quick checksum for the last month off my automatic toll transponder and compare that to some calculation against my bill. I can never remember how often I've used it during the previous month.


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