In Bid to Stop Prepaid Card Abuse, States Turn to Controversial Scanner Technology

By Colby Adams

Law enforcement officials in most U.S. states have quietly deployed controversial handheld scanners as part of an effort to interdict suspicious funds held on prepaid cards and other magnetic-stripe products. The Electronic Recovery and Access to Data (ERAD) scanners permit users to verify the card numbers and legal holders of debit and credit cards seized from a suspect, and to ascertain and temporarily freeze balances stored on seized prepaid cards after the suspect consents to a search or investigators establish probable cause. The readers also give law enforcement agents a tool to determine whether criminals are reprogramming and using the...