OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s a controversial program that has gained the attention of Gov. Mary Fallin.
Officials say criminals are relying less on cash and using gift and debit cards more often.
Recently, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol began using the ERAD system, which is a portable card reader that lets troopers read the information on pre-paid debit or gift cards when they’re discovered during a traffic stop to determine if they’re being used as vehicles for identity fraud.
OHP says sophisticated criminals may steal your bank account or credit card information and store the stolen data or money on a gift card.
The ERAD readers are designed to make sure the card is not being used for fraud.
However, ACLU of Oklahoma says the Department of Public Safety tried to get the ability to seize funds from bank accounts.
The ACLU says after pouring through the 199 page contract between DPS and the ERAD group, they found a section where DPS asked for the ability to get bank account and routing numbers and to be able to freeze and if necessary, seize those funds.
It’s an allegation that department officials deny.
“Contrary to the propaganda that we’re doing a swipe and seize and we’re taking everyone’s money, it’s simply not true,” said DPS Commissioner, Michael Thompson, at a press conference on Monday.
DPS began using the card readers last month and they tell us they have not seized any funds since using them.
Some out-of-state companies have decided not to send their vehicles through Oklahoma to protest the use of the ERADs.
On Friday, Gov. Fallin directed her Cabinet secretary of safety and security to delay the use of the devices.
“The Department of Public Safety needs to formulate a clear policy for using this new technology,” said Fallin. “It can be a viable tool for law enforcement only if authorities are able to ensure Oklahoma motorists and others driving through our state that it will be used appropriately.”
“I strongly support the Governor’s decision to suspend the use of this card reader technology,” Thompson said. “Suspending the ERAD program was a viable option which I discussed with the Governor’s staff this week. The public has expressed strong concerns about this program, and it is important that we address their concerns. The Highway Patrol’s focus will be to continue to faithfully serve the people of Oklahoma.”
Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Mustang) applauded the Governor’s decision.
“Suspending OHP’s card scanner program is the appropriate response until we know exactly what the full capabilities of these devices are,” he said in a statement. “When we are faced with balancing Constitutional liberty and public safety, we should always err on the side of the Constitution until we have all the facts. If we really want to assure Oklahomans the right of due process we need complete reform of our un-American Civil Asset Forfeiture laws.”