All Commissaries Will Soon Scan IDs

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Like we reported in October, you will soon be asked to present your military ID card to be scanned every time you make a purchase at the commissary. The plan, commissary officials told us, will allow commissary officials to track information on who is shopping and where.

The roll-out, which was to happen in batches of 20 stores, should be be finished by mid-January, commissary officials told us this week. About 200 of the 245 stores worldwide are already participating. That means if you aren’t already having your ID card scanned at your store, you will likely soon be seeing a notice like this one seen Dec. 30 at the Fort Campbell, Ky. commissary.

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The system will capture every shopper’s card ID number, rank, military status, branch of service, age, household size, and zip codes of residence and duty station of each shopper. It will not retain name, address, or phone number information, officials said in October.

Commissary officials hope capturing the data can help them better meet the shopping desires of customers.

“In addition to verifying customers as authorized commissary patrons, we’re gaining information that will give us a better understanding of our patrons, allowing the agency to provide the commissary benefit more effectively and efficiently,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA’s director.

The few commissary checkers we’ve spoken to since the announcement think the plan will cut down on a lot of commissary fraud. They said they are constantly shocked by how many non-authorized shoppers or people with expired dependent ID cards attempt to use the commissary. Scanning the ID cards will make sure no non-authorized shoppers get through.

But we are wondering — have you experienced any hiccups in the new system? Do you feel like the transition to scanning IDs has been good and smooth — or do you think it’s causing problems?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

39 Comments on "All Commissaries Will Soon Scan IDs"

  1. This is news? | January 2, 2014 at 9:32 am |

    Every commissary I have ever been to has done ID checks both at the door coming in and the register checking out. Scanning them is definitely new and interesting, but these “new” checks Spouse Buzz keeps reporting on aren’t news to me or anyone else at the several bases we have lived on or near over the years. It takes all of 30 seconds out of my shopping trip. Time to move on and focus on the bigger issues of pensions, retirements, and Prime coverage loss. If they need to do this to prove we want and need commissaries, let ’em do their jobs.

  2. It's mainly for fraud and black marketing.

    "Excuse me ma'am, why are you buying five bags of Jasmin rice every month?".

  3. How secure is the system this collected information is being placed into? Social security numbers in some instances are also being placed into the system. This has a flavor of the NSA phone data collection scheme. Our government I think is collecting much to much information on its' FREE citizens. Must they and you know all?

  4. isn`t that racist or something? i mean have to show an ID, oh the agony

  5. craig savage | January 3, 2014 at 9:00 am |

    This is just the first step to give them a reason to shut them down. They will use the data or manipulate the data to justify them closing shutting them down.

  6. rank, military status, branch of service, age, household size, and zip codes of residence and duty station of each shopper

    What good is this information in determining whom is eligible for benefits?

  7. I have never been asked for an ID at the Travis AFB Commissary. We just walk in, shop, pay and leave.

  8. And in other news, 42000 military members gave had their social security information stolen in a commissary data breech…..

  9. At the very least it will drive up prices because of fewer shoppers.

  10. As someone who has spent a LARGE chunk of their life in security. This is a massive mining operation, and since we ALL know just how great the government is at handling it's systems, and websites, and technologies, there is nothing to worry about, right…right? They tell you exactly what they are going to be storing, but they have neglected to inform us of what other metadata may be collected. They can collect EVERYTHING, from what you purchased to time of day to YES, the SS numbers. Legally they are only obligated to tell you what they store "long term"…and long term is a very relative term.

    The only good thing about this is maybe it will cut down on some of the fraud like extended family shopping, divorced parents using a child ID for non child related purposes, GS employees or contractors (and yes I've seen the "quick ID flash so no one notices") etc

    Frankly I despise the commissary here in DC, I avoid it like the plague when I can…this just gives me another reason to not go.

  11. If it bothers you that someone is collecting data on you, quit shopping at the store. Hopefully this will curtail the shopping for extended family members, I have seen carts in the commissary that have food enough for a family of 30 members. Feel the same tracking should apply to PX purchases Recently saw a shopping cart in the PX with six rice cookers in it.

  12. Years ago, and I do mean years ago, NO-ONE was allowed to enter either the commissary or BX/PX/NEX without a current, VALID, military ID card. So what exactly is the problem or issue with this seemingly "back to the future" ID check? The card/s were checked not only at the door; but also at the checkout station by the cashier. Although they did not "swipe" the card to collect information, they DID check the card, for validity, and that the card belonged to whomever was presenting it. In Europe, during the 1960s and 1970's, family members, such as a service members parents or his/her spouse's parents who came to visit were allowed to enter the BX/PX/NEX by showing an AMERICAN Passport; however, they WERE NOT ALLOWED TO PURCHASE ANYTHING. They WERE NOT allowed to enter the commissary even then.
    I do not foresee this becoming a problem, except in the minds of those who believe everything should be open to anyone. You may call me an AF Retired SrNCO.

  13. Linwood Windsor | January 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm |

    So I have the same card since 1984, Will the commissary require me to up grade the ID card .I visit the commissary about every 90 days when I visit the medical unit. Since I cross a $20.00 bridge to get there, I will take a cooler and get no more than what the cooler will hold.

  14. I think the only place commissaries should be are overseas, there are plenty of shopping places in the states to go buy food locally and support the town the posts and bases are located. Here in Germany all I ever get is the meats and some baggies or toilet paper and all the veggies or canned goods on the economy. I think prices are better locally than the inflated cost for the commissary price on items. They say tax free but it sure doesn't take shipping from all over the world into consideration.

  15. My only concern is that they say your name, address, etc. is not retained. If they keep the ID number, then they have your name, address, etc.

  16. A great way for big brother to also track what you are buying & how much you are buying. Buy 4 cases of beer every week & they know it. Buy tobacco & they know it. It gives them just cause to investigate you.

  17. It really doesn't work,because the people with the ID bring in friends and other family members and they all shop us being just one ID and Cash.And people who do have ID cards are buying food for their Businesses.I have seen this for myself.But No one say's or does anything.It is the almighty dollar.I said something to a few cashier's and they tell me the commissary doesn't care as long as the store make's money.

  18. I agree with Retired SNCO. I’m a military brat, I’m an veteran, and I’m the wife of a retired Air Force NCO. ID cards are given for a reason let’s use them for other then medical appointments, ice scrapers, and cashing checks in the BX. We need to use them as Identification Cards!The people that have cards have them for a reason they served their country or they are married to some one who served our country. Proud to show and oh so happy to once again have my ID counted!

  19. Amy Proctor | January 7, 2014 at 6:57 pm |

    The Obama administration and his Dept of Defense are planning to get rid of Commissaries and PXs except for on OCONUS bases. I don't think this new ID card scan has anything to do with improving services; I think they are searching for justifications to do get rid of this benefit.

  20. If you voted for Obama then your now enjoying the benefits of his wealth redistribution and health care. Nothing comes free.

  21. I am so grateful for the priviledge of shopping in the commissary that if they ask me to stand on my head I would if I could. We are so blessed to have served this wonderful country that I thank God for the honor

  22. In my area they do comparison pricing with the local stores with the highest prices so you are paying the same plus the service charge equal to tax and then some in some cases plus the tip for the bagger an the one who takes the groceries to the car. You are not saving money here. I can go down the street a few blocks and get most items for at least a dollar less than at the commissary. We stopped making the trip to the commissary a few years ago it was costing me more to make the trip plus veggies and fruit in many cases were not fit to carry out of the store brought the items to the attention of the head of the department and got excuses no changes were made along with the fact that the buys were picked up before store hours when some of the employees came in to work and those were gone by the time the store opened, this group ran the commissary so much going on in my store. The information they collect I also am suspicious that that is not what they are really up to and it is going to lead to more just don't need all the hassle, that is my opinion and do miss some things that I could buy out there and only they carried them but for the few things it still is not worth the trip can live without them.

  23. We clearly save money by shopping at the commissary once a month. We purchase non-perishable dry goods, laundry products, canned goods, cereal, coffee, etc. Our estimate is a savings of about 30% over local stores with the exception of warehouse clubs. However, we live in a condo with limited storage, so not having to buy the large quantities sold by the warehouse clubs is a real benefit for us as well as the low prices.

  24. I DO take my Mom with me when I go, though she does not buy anything. I often stop there on my way through town to save gas to from her doctor appointments in another town. She is disabbled. I am so HAPPY not to have to chose to either leve her in a hot car, or not be able to stop (I would of course be forced into the second!)! I realize someone, somewhere is GOING to break the rules, but do we alll have to pay the price? And, I do agree with another poster, they are just gathering info so they argue as to why closing all of them in CONUS is a good idea. For MANY veterans, it is a blessing, and one of the benefits they count on to stretch their shrinking dollars.

  25. You have to be a smart shopper at the commissary and know what the prices are for the items you buy the most often. The commissary has a "price cycle" just like any off-base grocery store. You must keep notes and be able to spot when the price cycle for the item you want is at or near the bottom. Otherwise you will find the price at the top of the cycle is more than Walmart or another off-base store charges for the same item. Add in the cost of the 5% surcharge tax, plus the bagger's tip, plus the tip for the person who runs the grocery special cart out to your vehicle, and you are lucky if you break even compared to the off-base grocery stores. You have to know what items are cheaper at the commissary and what the bottom of the price cycle price is. Buy in advance when the price is low, instead of waiting until you are out of an item and then pay the peak price. Coupons help too.

  26. I’m lost. Your info is already collected and used by DoD. I don’t care if my card is scanned. I’m an active service member. If it keeps divorced spouses, the ones who hide and won’t turn in cards from using something they don’t deserve, go for it DeCA.

    Kick them out!!

  27. Willis C Grays | January 8, 2014 at 6:18 pm |

    I think it is a good idea especailly with the proposal to cut downsizing or closing the commissaries altogether and maybe the higher up will get an idea just how much we depend on the commissaries stateside . For the retirees and active duty Military it's going to be like closing the gas station on base and having to purchase gas on the local economy. There goes another one of our benefits cut. How much more are they going to take from us?

  28. What about those who are listed as 100% Disabled Veterans? They may not have an ID card, other than a Veterans Affairs ID Card, yet they and their family are certainly entitled to the same base privileges including the commissary as any other servicemember.

  29. I just got my I D renewed last year and it is not a scan card. As a retired SNCO my card also says indef. Will we have to get new cards again?

  30. As an older retiree, my ID card does not have all the bells and whistles that the recently issued ones have. Do this mea I have to get a new ID?

  31. I think it's a great idea. Maybe it will help keep unauthorized shoppers out. If you have current ID card your social security and other personal info should not be a problem.

  32. i have gone now to our commissary a lot sincew I retired in 1968, My bas pay at that time was alittle over four hundred dollars a month as an e 7, half of my base pay was what I got for 21 years. I was alays glad hat I has priviledges at the comm.cause it provided me with help, even tho I had to take a second civilian job.Nowadays an e-7 with over twenty years gets a base pay of over 5,000.00 If they close the comm'swhere is my advantage versus grorcery stores that charge over 4.00 for milk, 4.00 for cereal,breads are higher,cheeses,and a multitude of items that are much higher I'll have to do like a lot of seniors by chekin the trash for edible items…Yes saving for the rick and losing for the poor
    stymied….

  33. MASTERMECH48 | January 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm |

    "Commissary officials hope capturing the data can help them better meet the shopping desires of customers." That statement implies a feed back system for the customers to "better meet the shopping desires" of the customers so, WHERE IS THE FEED BACK SYSTEM???? Sure glad I read this bit now, I'm going to print it out and go "huntin" for my local commissary OIC and get an answer.

  34. Our ID's have been being scanned here for since the new year. I have no issue with that. But I don't see why they continue to pay someone to check the ID (flashed) at the door. That is a waste of money. They will catch anyone trying to scam the system much better with the scanning at the register.

  35. My first thought when reading this was that they're doing it in an attempt to begin the process of closing INCONUS commissaries (I would imagine that their "data" will somehow come out to show that they shouldn't be kept open). I'm not sure where others who say the commissary is too expensive live, but I would have a rough time keeping our current food budget if I had to shop out in town. I've tried it. I use coupons. I check the "double coupon" specials at our local grocery stores…even with that, the commissary is almost always less expensive, and if it is more expensive for a particular item, it is usually only by pennies. Just today, when I went into one of my local grocery stores to return a redbox movie, I noticed that there were some apples on sale for $1.79/lb (did I say they were "on sale?")….they same type of apples that I just saw at the commissary yesterday for .88/lb. Part of the perks of being a military family is the benefit of being able to grocery shop at the commissary, one which this struggling family of 5 certainly appreciates!

  36. Tracy Locke | January 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm |

    Does this include the hospitals? I shop at the hospital VA when I have a doctor's appointment. I have medical disability. I do not have a standard military ID card, only a medical card.

  37. A Colonel's wife | January 14, 2014 at 10:28 am |

    As a military spouse and employee with DeCA, I see no problem with scanning ID's at the Commissary. As a dependent, I have enjoyed the benefit of shopping at the Commissary for 26+ years. As an employee, I have had countless attempts of authorized shoppers bringing in guests to shop. The patron shows their ID and leaves or will expect their guest to pay for the purchases. There have been instances where the method of payment has been exchanged in my presence and I again explain to them that I cannot witness any exchange, therefore I cannot process their payment. They will lose their shopping privileges as a result of this. It constitutes fraud. Despite their usual reply of, " We have always been able to do this. When did this change? Is this something new?" My reply is simply, not while I am working or at my register. If this has been allowed in the past it is because someone is not doing their job properly. It is is in the regulations. The most frustrating part is that the authorized shopper will come in with multiple guests , have 4 or 5 shopping carts filled to the brim, and the method of payment is several EBT (Welfare) cards. Legally the employees at the Commissary are not allowed to verify that the EBT cards match the name on the ID. It is considered privileged information. I am hoping that by scanning the ID cards this will eliminate this blatant fraud being committed by the authorized shoppers. Especially at Self Check Out (SCO's) registers, we have had countless patrons committing fraud and blatant theft when the attendants attention is focused on assisting a patron at another self-check out register. At our store, we have had dependents scan their items for purchase, load them in their basket, and walk out without paying when the attendant's back is turned. We have even had patrons stacking cheaper cuts of meat on top of more expensive cuts, scan the the cheaper item on top, and place it in the bag, or scanning a coupon and placing a blank piece of paper in the self check out machine. Sadly, those committing the fraud eat better than the rest of us hard working Americans. I find it offensive that these patrons are knowingly committing fraud and not being held accountable.

  38. Many moons ago ID's were checked at the door. No ID, no entry.This ensured that patrons were authorized to be there.On a recent trip I saw two woman each pushing a cart loaded with mostly meats and five other people following them around.I had to wonder if all of them had ID's and how many people they were feeding.I agree with the ID checks.

  39. FE Warren AFB Has been scanning IDs since December

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