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Why is DeCA scanning ID cards?

Military commissaries worldwide will return to normal operating schedules the week of Aug. 18-24.

(Courtesy photo)

Why is DeCA scanning ID cards?
A: Scanning the Department of Defense ID card bar code allows the Defense Commissary Agency to positively identify an individual and verify that he or she is authorized to shop in the commissary. There are a small number of older ID cards without bar codes. A card without a bar code cannot be scanned; however, it must still be presented to ascertain positive ID of the cardholder and eligibility for the commissary benefit, which is a DOD requirement.

When will this scanning begin to roll out in stores, and is this DeCA-wide?
A: Scanning began on Nov. 10, and will be in place at all of our commissaries by mid-January. Stores will display signs notifying customers that ID card scanning will be implemented in their store one of two weeks before it is scheduled to begin.

What information does DeCA collect?
A: The only information captured at the register is the ID card number, which is cross-reference with the Defense Manpower Data Center's Defense Enrollment Eligibility System (DEERS) to obtain rank, military status, branch of service, age, household size, residential ZIP code and duty station. This data provides us with information about patron usage by military service and basic customer demographics. Specific, personal data about an individual is not collected.

Why does DeCA need this information?
A: We need this information to verify a patron's eligibility to use the commissary and to record data about a customer's military affiliation, which we provide to the DOD, when requested. In addition, the basic demographic information we capture will allow us to better understand our patrons and their preferences. This will enable us to provide products and services that are directly related to the entire patron base - not individuals - at specific commissary locations.

Who will use this information?
A: The information will be used only by DeCA.

How can DeCA ensure no Privacy Act information, such as Social Security numbers, is collected?
A: The information noted in Question 3 (above) is stored behind DeCA's "firewall," which has physical, administrative and technical controls in place, as required by DOD regulations and the Privacy Act, to minimize the risk of compromising our customers' privacy.

Why is the scanning of ID cards mandatory?
A: With advances in technology, more and more activities on military installations are scanning DOD ID cards to positively identify individuals and verify that they are entitled to the benefit they're trying to use. Commissary customers have become accustomed to presenting their DOD ID card to cashiers to verify they are authorized to use a military benefit.

If an ID card has expired, what happens? Can the customer finish his or her purchases?
A: Customers must present valid ID cards to make their commissary purchases. Unfortunately, those with expired cards will not be allowed to finish their purchases and must make an appointment to a military installation's Pass and ID office to get a new ID card.

I am an agent for an authorized shopper. Can I still shop for the authorized patron?
A: Yes. You will still represent the same documentation as before, based on guidelines for your respective installation. Required documentation is usually an Agent Letter or an Agent Card.

Why do I have to both show my ID and scan it at the register?
A: When you present your DOD ID card at the register, the cashier can verify that you are the cardholder by looking at the card photograph.

Why does the cashier have to scan my ID card and my Rewards Card?
A: These two cards are independent of each other. Scanning your DOD ID card, as explained in Question 1, is part of the validation process. We scan your Rewards Card to apply digital coupon discounts to your total shopping purchase.

Will the card be scanned before beginning a transaction at the register? Will a customer scan his or her own ID card at the register?
A: Scanning is done before the checkout process begins. If you're using the self-checkout, you will hand your card to the attendant, who will check your photograph to verify you are the cardholder and then hand the card back to you, at which time you will scan your ID.

Do I have to have my ID card scanned at checkout? Can I opt out?
A: Commissary customers have become accustomed to presenting their DOD ID card to cashiers to verify they are authorized to use a military benefit. Since only authorized patrons can use the commissary, and scanning the card is the means of verification, no patron can opt out of having their ID card scanned.

Will the system be able to match information about Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions - in effect, giving the ability to determine who is actually redeeming these benefits in commissaries - without indentifying specific individuals who are using them?
A: Yes, we will be able to examine WIC and SNAP transactions without identifying specific individuals who are using these programs. WIC and SNAP transactions are uniquely identified in DeCA's point-of-sale system; however, the only information being collected at the register is the ID card number, which does not personally identify commissary users.

Who is maintaining the data - is it a private company, or DeCA? Is it maintained within the commissary where folks shop, or in one large database or both?
A: Only DeCA - and not a third party - is collecting this information. The collected data is maintained at DeCA Headquarters, not at any of our commissaries.

Will you match the demographic information to what customers buy?
A: Yes, but not at an individual level. We will link purchases to the patron base as a whole, as it relates to basic demographics such as military status, branch of service, distance from commissary, age, and household size. Matching purchases to this broad demographic information will allow us to better understand out patron base and its preferences at each geographic location.

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