Automating Through Cellular Technology Without Thinking About Safeguards

Shopping at a membership wholesale club this weekend, I learned I no longer needed to present my membership card to check out.  I simply scanned my card’s bar code using my smart phone, and when I checked out, I simply showed the bar code on my phone to the cashier, who scanned my smart phone screen.    I thought  back to how I gained access to the store (membership required), and all I did (and ever do) was hold up my card  as I whisked past the person at the door (most often not paying close attention to passing patrons anyway) and I was off shopping.

I asked the cashier how she knew it was me.  She had no response. I asked her what would prevent me from sharing my card to gain access, and my bar code with all my friends and family, by simply placing my bar code on all of their phones as well.  She had no answer.  I asked her why any of my friends or family should spend the $35 per person obtaining their own membership card, when they could flash my card to access the store, and use my bar code scanned into their phones to check out.  Once again, no answer, just a blank stare at me (as if I were speaking a foreign language).

What I can not understand is why this well known national membership club has not thought about the negative impact scanning a shopper’s cell phone screen could have on the store’s membership income.  A simple control would require the shopper to provide some form of picture identification, which would allow the cashier to compare the scanned card’s information to the shopper standing right in front of them.

Makes me wonder how much thought is being devoted towards controls and anti-fraud measures as new apps and processes are introduced.

Our local library, risking the loss of borrowed books and movies, enabled scanning patron’s library cards off patron’s smart phone screens.  However, when they scan the card’s bar code, the picture of the patron appears on their screen, allowing them to compare the card’s photo with the patron using the card’s bar code.  A local library with no revenue at stake figured that out, but a national membership club did not?

As I see more and more technology and automation implemented within our daily lives, I challenge the implementations to see what if any controls have been contemplated to minimize the potential for fraud within the process.    For example, I have issues with the self-scanning registers nearly every time I use them in the grocery stores, most often with scanned products appearing as the wrong items or with the wrong prices.  Automation does not equate to accuracy in my experience.  I have prevailed every time I have pointed out the discrepancies to management.  What about all the other shoppers who never noticed discrepancies on their orders

Fraud will only continue, and unfortunately as more processes are automated through apps, iphones, ipads, blackberries and other hand-held devices, I suspect the nature and frequency of fraud will only increase.

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