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Prepaid Card Reader Fact Sheet


Helping law enforcement stop the flow of illicit funds across the border.

Large numbers of prepaid cards containing unknown amounts of money cross the United States’ (U.S.) border daily. A growing number of these cards are being used for illicit purposes. Currently, law enforcement agencies can’t identify or suspend funds from prepaid cards that may be used in support of criminal activities. To assist law enforcement personnel with this task, a technology is needed that can quickly scan prepaid cards and identify the funds associated with the cards. This technology will allow law enforcement to differentiate prepaid cards from credit or debit cards, and allow them to halt continued use of the suspect prepaid card while conducting additional investigations.

To address this need, the U.S. Department of Home-land Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) partnered with the ERAD Group to develop a scanning instrument for prepaid cards that is based on a commercially available credit card reader. Officers can use this de-vice to swipe suspect cards and obtain the associated financial information. If credit or debit cards are swiped, the instrument will provide an indication that the card was correctly scanned, but that it is not a pre-paid card. To protect the identities of innocent users, no user or balance information from credit or debit cards is displayed, stored, or transmitted to other locations. Additionally, the system is able to operate in a wireless or wired mode, and suspend additional card transactions or facilitate the transfer of card funds to a holding account.

Attachment Ext. Size Date
Prepaid Card Reader Fact Sheet PDF 116.1 KB 02/09/2021
Last Updated: 01/12/2023
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