Military ID Scanning at Commissaries to Commence

Keep your Military ID handy after showing it to the door-minder if you shop at the commissary, because as of 22 October 2013 an agency-wide rollout of Military ID scanning at commissaries during checkout has begun. The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) initiated the program at the Fort Lee, VA commissary and it should be activated in all commissaries worldwide by mid-January 2014. The rollout date will vary by commissary so you will need to ask at your commissary when the scanning will begin. Most commissaries will post signs 1-2 weeks prior to the system going into effect.

Depending on your personal feelings towards the level of privacy you wish to maintain, you may be unfazed by this change or perturbed.

The information collected and managed by DeCA includes “card ID number, rank, military status, branch of service, age, household size, and ZIP codes of residence and duty station”, in addition to a record of what products/items were purchased. Your name, address and phone number are not collected nor associated with the data. This program will eliminate the need for DeCA to store customer personal data in their computer systems, for example for those who write checks for their purchases.

This information will be used to generate demographic and sales data across a broad field (not on an individual basis) to better understand what items and in what quantities are in demand at the commissary. Examples of broad-based data they are looking for is purchase habits by “military status, branch of service, distance from commissary, age, and household size.”

The process and data collected appears similar, if not identical, to those practices already in place at civilian grocery stores with loyalty programs. They also collect data on what is purchased, how far the customer lives from the store, etc. so that they know what goods are in demand in that area and what coupons to mail a customer based on individual purchase habits.

This process will be similar to what you’re already used to at the door to verify your eligibility to shop at the commissary. Except now at check-out, your ID card will be scanned at the register, in addition to your photo being confirmed for your identity. If you do self check-out, the attendant will have to verify your photo matches your identity.

A few FAQs:

  • Expired ID cards will not be accepted and you will not be permitted to make any transactions at the commissary.
  • You can not opt out of scanning your Military ID at check-out.
  • If your ID card is an older issue and has no bar code, you still must show your card at check-out.
  • If you use a Rewards Card for digital savings, both your Military ID and the Rewards Card will have to be scanned at check-out; the two are not linked in the system.

Read the official DeCA news release.

For more detailed information and responses to specific questions, go to the commissary FAQ website.

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