Entries in Self-Checkout (2)


Self-Checkout Technology Reduces Theft

George Doyle/Stoc‚Äčkbyte(NEW YORK) -- While some grocery chains like Big Y and Kroger have done away with self-checkout lanes, other retailers have welcomed them in — but with a bit of added security, thanks to a software program that analyzes store video and tracks theft.

Scan-It-All is a video recognition technology that’s automated to analyze a retail store’s security videos in real time. It works by comparing the number of items a customer has in the cart with the number of items being scanned.

“It can see the customer has five items but has only rung up three of them,” said the program’s creator Malay Kundu, also the founder and CEO of StopLift Checkout Vision Systems. “We just make sure people aren’t stealing.”

When an incident occurs, the program immediately notes the transaction and alerts a store employee.

Kundu, who created Scan-It-All nearly three years ago, said his program was watching thousands of checkout lanes across the U.S. and that he’d seen a sharp increase in retailers demanding his technology.

As retailers are ushering in self-checkout stations to reduce labor costs, he said, they are finding themselves faced with the possibility of increased thefts.

“We do see as much as five times the rate of loss [including theft] at self-checking,” as compared to stations where there are cashiers, he said.

Last week, law enforcement in New Jersey ended a multistate theft ring that led to more than $100,000 in losses at about 70 Home Depot stores from New York to Virginia. The thefts allegedly occurred at self-checkout lanes as the thieves scanned cheap items and bagged the more expensive ones, despite the presence of attendants.

Kundu said that most retailers hired employees to staff self-checkout lanes for customer service purposes.  But if an attendant is helping one customer, he said, that leaves the other customers to ring up their items without being watched.

“It’s one step beyond saying ‘Let’s use the honor code,’” he said of self-checkout. “No one is necessarily watching.”

According to Scan-It-All’s online tally, it has recorded nearly half-a-million cases of scan avoidance — among staffed and self-checkout stations — over the last three years.

Kundu said customers usually managed to avoid scanning by leaving items in carts, weighing items by the pound though they had individual price tags, and by “sweethearting,” in which customers and cashiers don’t scan the item at all.

“It’s not always the really expensive item,” he said. “We see people [stealing] random items just because they can.”

In an email, Home Depot said it could not “get into that level of detail about our security measures” when asked whether it used a program similar to Scan-It-All. But the company said it would not be removing its self-checkout lanes; customers prefer them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supermarket Customers Hit By Debit Card-Skimming Thieves

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MODESTO, Calif.) -- Thieves who inserted data-skimming devices into card readers at Lucky's supermarket self-checkout counters ripped off as many as 500 of the California chain's customers, officials said.

Lucky's, owned by Save Market Supermarkets, said in a statement that the company has removed tampered credit/debit card readers from 24 stores. The readers have been sent to the Secret Service, which is investigating the scam.

Data-skimming devices inserted into the readers allowed the crooks to steal information like the shoppers' PIN numbers, expiration dates and security codes from the cards wirelessly. Lucky realized something was up, according to its statement, when during a regular review it discovered a reader that "looked suspicious."

Lucky said in its statement that its customer-support team has been fielding up to 2,000 calls a day. It said all the readers that were tampered with were replaced by Nov. 23. The company doesn't know how much money was taken illicitly because of the tampering.

To protect themselves against skimmers, shoppers should consider using credit rather than debit cards, says identity theft expert John Sileo, author of "Stolen Lives, Identity Theft Prevention Made Simple."

"It's much more attractive to a thief to get a debit card, and it's much harder on a victim," Sileo says.

The reason: with a debit card, consumers often have only a couple of days to notify the bank that they were victims of fraud, whereas credit-card companies generally allow 60 to 90 days and do the investigation themselves.

Sileo recommends checking out the reader you are about to use and making sure it looks just like the one in the other aisles--with nothing loose, sticking out and with no sign of a camera attached.

He also suggests setting up debit and credit card alerts via text message or email. "If you're home watching the football game and you just spent $5 in Starbucks, you know you've got a problem," he said.

Self-checkout makes fraud easier, he said. "There's nobody watching. It does make it easier to slip on a skimmer or put in a camera that records people's PIN numbers," he said. But he doesn't think shoppers need to stop using self-checkout. They just need to be vigilant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio