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The Carding, Covid and Compliance Challenge

02/2022

Early indications are showing a spike in violation rates

Asking for ID can be challenging, doing so during masking and a global pandemic even more so.  The minimum age sales law changed nationally to Under 21 just two years ago.   Most states followed suit and passed laws to parallel the federal 21-year minimum age law.  

FDA recently issued more than 3,000 violation notices to retailers for failing to comply with the federal 21-year minimum-age law and illegally selling to someone underage. 

That's an uptick from previous years. 

Looking back, it may not be a surprise to see why.

As we began the year 2020, the new 21-year minimum-age federal law took effect and that included “carding” everyone under 30 years old.

Around the same time, COVID disrupted nearly everything from staffing to ID checking -- which wasn't helped by mask-wearing.  FDA and state government store inspections mostly stopped.

Today, while COVID may be waning, we have labor shortages and a restart of FDA and state-level retailer inspections.  

A big change is that more states are beginning to conduct official checks with 18-20 years olds and are reporting higher violation rates, particularly when the underage buyer is age 18, 19, or 20.  

It’s time to re-invigorate all responsible retailing efforts for age-restricted products.

We Card Recommends retailers take 4 steps immediately.

    1. Retrain front-line employees to Think 30. The federal law sets the carding age to Under 30.  Even if your policy is carding all customers, retrain on it using We Card's Booster Course!

    2. Establish a clear carding policy and make sure it's prominently displayed so employees (and customers) know your company's policy. Put up fresh In-store Signage!

    3. Commit to an electronic age calculation device that reads the ID's barcode: these systems can make a significant step toward a perfect compliance record. If you're not scanning IDs, consider it. See our video on its value.

    4. Consider mystery shopping your store using ID Check-Up -- a key component of verifying that your employees are asking for IDs.

And as always, We Card has a multitude of resources, tools, and training to make sure your store is prepared to identify and deny underage purchase attempts and that makes you prepared for the next compliance check.

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