Police can use a mobile device to seize funds from prepaid cards if they suspect the holder is a criminal. This opens up a whole new way in which law enforcement agencies can seize funds, but it also opens a debate over whether or not the underlying law –civil asset forfeiture – should be allowed. Civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize a person’s assets if they think the assets have been obtained illegally, even if there is never a conviction for a crime.
According to ERAD’s website, its small-hand held device can scan card information from any card with a magnetic stripe but can only seize funds from a prepaid card. With “prepaid card, ERAD™ gives you the ability, right at the point of arrest, to determine the value and immediately secure or freeze those funds,” according to the site. “Law Enforcement personnel can transfer the money associated with a prepaid card directly to a designated Law Enforcement bank account.”
Prepaid again being singled out, but what is really happening is that the most vulnerable segments of society are being targeted. The police can literally start emptying the pockets of everyone picked up in a raid, and leave people who are using prepaid cards as an account replacement with no way to survive, much less pay for legal counsel. This is an area where the regulators should step in and protect prepaid card holders, since they can be deprived of their property without any sort of due process.
Overview by Ben Jackson, Director, Prepaid Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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