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AAFES ID check goes hi-tech

DALLAS -- Implementation of an updated point-of-sale system that leverages the technological advances available through "smart" Common Access Cards is streamlining the identification process for age-restricted items at Army and Air Force Exchanges.

"According to DoD Instruction 1330.21( and Army Regulation 215-8 ( Exchanges are required to restrict the sale of certain items such as alcohol and tobacco," said the Army and Air Force Exchange Service's Chief of Staff Col. Virgil Williams. "Prior to implementation of the 'smart' ID cards, exchange associates had to visually inspect the identification in order to complete the sale. Now, our scanners at the register can work directly with the card to verify eligibility."

The Exchange's new point-of-sale system, which rolled out to U.S. locations on Sept. 22 and is scheduled to be released at European and PAC facilities before the end of the month, prompts associates to check identification when a restricted item is scanned.

Scanning the bar code on the front of the shopper's ID card allows the Exchange's system to determine the customer's age and quickly complete the transaction. The system does not print the customer's birth date on a receipt or store the information in any way.

"This is a convenience issue," said Williams. "It's simply a matter of what is easiest for the shopper and, because the process is mechanical, another measure to help ensure minors are not in possession of age-restricted items."

According to Williams, scanning IDs to verify age is consistent with DoD Instruction 1000.13 ( which deems "U.S. Armed Forces Identification" cards as "the primary ID for active duty Uniformed Services members and shall be used to identify the member's eligibility for benefits and privileges."

"In this case the Exchange is identifying whether the shopper is eligible to purchase age-restricted items," said Williams. "As a result, I believe this effort is consistent with the DoD's intent behind 'smart' IDs and am excited about the efficiencies combining it with the Exchanges' point- of-sale system presents. Furthermore, I'm confident this process is protecting the benefits of authorized shoppers by verifying ages on items, such as knives and mature rated music, video and games, as well as tobacco and alcohol."