You use the self-checkout kiosk at a local store. As you head to your car, a security officer stops you and accuses you of shoplifting…or perhaps weeks later, an officer shows up at your home with a warrant for your arrest for misdemeanor larceny. What happened? You may have forgotten an item at the bottom of your basket…or a barcode you scanned wasn’t read correctly.

These scenarios have played out scores of times around the country in recent years as self-checkout becomes common. Retailers have a legitimate reason for their vigilance—theft accounts for nearly 4% of inventory at stores with self-checkout versus just 1.5% for stores with traditional checkout. In fact, big-box chains and supermarkets routinely videotape self-checkout activity.

Protect yourself at self-checkout…

Be slow and intentional when scanning your items. Avoid rushing even if there is a line of impatient customers behind you. When you scan, listen for the beep indicating that the barcode has been read, then check the view screen for confirmation of your purchase.

Scan each item separately if you have several identical ones. To streamline the checkout process, some customers resort to scanning one of the identical items multiple times. Problem: You can easily lose count.

Use traditional checkout lines if you are purchasing expensive items. In some states, larceny becomes a much more serious felony charge when the disputed items total as little as $200.

Call an attendant if a self-checkout scanner is faulty or sluggish.


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