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Retail Stores Beginning to Fingerprint Customers

By catseye in Op-Ed
Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:50:06 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Not only do stores want your entire life's history on your check, some now want your thumbprint.


While shopping this past weekend, I wanted to pay by check for my purchases at a national shoe store chain. The clerk explained that they now fingerprint customers who pay by check to protect against check fraud. This took me so completely by surprise that I couldn't hide my anger and indignation, and I unfortunately tore into the clerk (verbally, at least) about how stupid this policy was, whose idea it was, etc., as I ripped my check back out of her hand and tore it up. I ended up paying with a credit card and apologizing to her, since of course it wasn't her fault, but I won't shop there again.

As I continued my mall experience, I found that this was not the only store to do this -- a women's clothing store did this as well. I got to thinking, and the more I thought, the more angry I became.

I discovered that I'm really tired of being treated like a criminal. I've been fingerprinted many times in my life. I've been a licensed private investigator and security guard, and had weapons licenses. All those require fingerprinting so that the applicant's prints can be checked against FBI records to prevent a convicted felon being licensed. That, in my opinion, is reasonable. I've sold large amounts of jewelry at pawn shops and had to leave a thumbprint. While annoying, that's understandable and reasonable, as pawn shops are notorious for dealing in stolen merchandise, both knowingly and unknowingly. Basically, any time you have to prove that you are not a convicted felon, fingerprinting is, understandably, required.

What is unreasonable is to be fingerprinted for wanting to buy shoes. What is being done with my fingerprint? Is it going into some database to link my fingerprints with my purchasing history or the information on my check? Who is going to have access to this information? How long will it be kept on file and where would it be housed? The clerk, of course, could not answer this.

While trying to do some web research on this, I came up with the following links:

Fingerprint May Soon Be Needed to Buy Groceries
CrimeBite Authentiprint (the technology used)

Regardless of the advertising spin and the retailer's rationalization, this is not for my protection. If a store has a problem with check fraud, then they should not accept checks. Many businesses in my city no longer accept checks, due to the increasing check fraud by college students. Most banks in the area offer Visa or Mastercard check cashing cards, so that you can use them to pay out of your checking account instead of writing a check. Businesses do not have to accept checks... there are other alternatives.

I'm naturally paranoid of biometrics, but I'm a reasonable person so I can see the need for it in some areas -- banks, mints, hospitals, military, government, police, personal security systems, etc. The average person should not have to provide a thumbprint or submit to a retinal scan to buy clothes or food, at least not until there are laws regarding what can be done with the information collected.

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Poll
Have you ever been fingerprinted at a retail store?
o Yes, and it bothered me but I did it. 1%
o Yes, and it didn't bother me. 0%
o They wanted to, but I refused. 3%
o No, but it wouldn't bother me. 4%
o No, and it would bother me. 89%

Votes: 117
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Fingerprin t May Soon Be Needed to Buy Groceries
o CrimeBite Authentiprint (the technology used)
o Also by catseye


Display: Sort:
Retail Stores Beginning to Fingerprint Customers | 98 comments (98 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
What's wrong with this? (4.20 / 10) (#1)
by theboz on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:01:40 AM EST

You suggest that businesses should stop taking checks and instead take credit cards and debit cards so they don't have to take your fingerprint. This doesn't make sense to me becuase they already take both, and if you don't want to be fingerprinted pay with cash or a debit/credit card. It's not that difficult to think about. There isn't some consipiracy that will make you give a fingerprint for every purchase you make so I don't see the problem. Also, I can see how it would benefit if there were some sort of instant verification they could do for credit card purchases as well. There are millions of dollars lost every year from credit card fraud. You wouldn't have to worry about giving your credit card to a waiter anymore, or worry about someone stealing your credit card numbers. This really would be about security.

Also, I haven't found a store yet that doesn't accept cash. Cash is nearly impossible to track you by (except under rare circumstances), so you should stick to that if you are this paranoid.

Stuff.

Types of Payment (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by catseye on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:21:30 AM EST

What I suggested was that if a business is having problems with taking checks, then they should simply stop taking checks. They will lose little, if any, business because most people in this area that have a checking account also can obtain a check cashing card, so those that don't like to carry cash or don't want to pay by credit card can still pay by another means.

As far as cash goes... I pay by cash when I can, but if I don't like carrying more than about $100 in case of robbery.



[ Parent ]
Wait a minute.. (4.25 / 4) (#11)
by Electric Angst on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:59:14 AM EST

So, because a few people don't like the idea of having to put their fingerprints on a check, the store itself should stop accepting checks. Why not just let the people who don't like putting their fingerprints on checks pay by some other method, rather than not accepting checks from the people who wouldn't mind the fingerprints?

You know, there are people out there who think that a fingerprint on their checks isn't some horrible infringement of their privacy.


--
I fly the UN Flag.
[ Parent ]
There are other ways to check... (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Rasvar on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:47:25 PM EST

on if a check is good too. Some instant verifications. Its a personal thing for me. I will present a valid photo id and one other form of ID. If that is not enough, I may give them what they want to finish the transaction[no fingerprints or anything like that though] and then never shop there again. I tend not to run into this very often though. I will use cash in 7-11's and debit cards at the grocery store. I hate writting checks as it is. I'm not all anti-technology. Afterall, I use Disneys biometric readers with my annual passes. Simpler then pulling out a photo id each time. For me, it is if I feel like I am being treated like a criminal or not. I will not give up my rights to freedom and liberty in order to secure saftey.

[ Parent ]
The problems with those ideas (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by theboz on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:01:21 PM EST

First of all, the fingerprinting with the checks is not normally used for anything. They collect that as a form of insurance against fraud but unless the check bounces they will never use it. At least this is how it worked years ago when I first saw it in a bank.

As far as presenting a valid form of ID, that isn't what the fingerprinting is for. It is for them to have your fingerprint on file if the check turns out to be fake or whatever. Plus, the address on everyone's driver's license is not always current and there are numerous other reasons why using a driver's license wouldn't always work (what about those that don't have them but do have checking as well?)

So, I think you are just being slightly paranoid, and should learn that these prints are not being checked against anything unless there is a problem. And even then, the stores have to go through the proper authorities to be able to find out who you really are so the thumbprints are useless to them until the police are involved.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Cheque guarantee services; paranoia (none / 0) (#26)
by simon farnz on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:26:04 PM EST

The fingerprint may not be used for anything normally, but then if I give the store my telephone number as verification, they won't normally call me. Why does that justify the need. In any case, over here in the UK we have cheque guarantee cards (usually for between 50 and 200), which cover smaller transactions. People like Equifax Cheque Services provide guarantees for larger cheques.
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]
Paranoid, yeah. (4.00 / 2) (#56)
by Rasvar on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 05:54:43 PM EST

Just as I was when the state of Florida made a deal to sell digital photos that were taken for drivers liscense to create a private database, alledgedly, for credit verification. Fortunately, that was stopped. I do have problems with mass databases. Too many input errors are made. I keep waiting for someone to see the 'fingerprints' as another money making data warehouse. I have problems with credit brueaues and any other type of private data collection. There are not enough safegaurds to protect the integrity of the data. Until private business can prove or are reasonably highly regulated in their use of this info, I will be paranoid about its use becuase their track record stinks.

[ Parent ]
Cash (3.25 / 4) (#21)
by Ludwig on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:47:54 PM EST

Also, I haven't found a store yet that doesn't accept cash.

They're not exactly "stores," but storefront FedEx locations don't take cash.

[ Parent ]

I know such a store... (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by Eccles on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 04:59:40 PM EST

Also, I haven't found a store yet that doesn't accept cash.

I know a furniture store (Scan, at least one branch of it) that does not accept cash. It makes a fair bit of sense; most of their business is hundreds or thousands of dollars, yet there's not a single dollar bill in the store. It makes security rather easier.

[ Parent ]
Cheque Guarantee Cards (4.12 / 8) (#2)
by Ticino on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:03:51 AM EST

One of the neat things that I found about living in the UK is that for point of sale purchases using a cheque, stores will not accept a cheque without a cheque guarantee card. Basically what this is is your debit/atm card with a logo/hologram on the back denoting that your bank will honor all cheques up to a certain amount (Between 50 - 200). The store writes your card number/details on the back of the cheque and accepts it. So in effect the store is guaranteed the value of the cheque up to your cheque guarantee amount. Most stores here won't let you write a cheque for more than your guarantee amount. It would be interesting if the US developed this type of system.

One of the things that interested me about the fingerprinting schemes in the US was as you noted what is the policy/procedure for these fingerprints once the cheque clears? If I remember my US law correctly, isn't it illegal for a company to maintain a database of fingerprints? If that is so, what happens to the cheque once it clears. If the cheque issuer is allowed to keep the cheque, don't they in effect have a database of your fingerprint at that point?

UK cheque guarantee cards; some comments (4.00 / 2) (#5)
by simon farnz on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:15:03 AM EST

A cheque guarantee card does not have to be an ATM card; some credit cards are also guarantee cards.

A guarantee card is a promise by the card issuer (usually a bank or similar organisation) to pay up to the card limit or the value of the cheque, whichever is lower in the event that the cheque bounces; there are conditions on use of the card. Usually, you have to write and sign the cheque in front of the assistant, and you are of course banned from writing cheques that you know will bounce (and thus cause the guarantee to pay out).
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

Checks (2.87 / 8) (#3)
by malikcoates on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:05:31 AM EST

You can imagine that stores are tired of getting bad checks. I think this is the stores way of nudging the customer. A not so subtle hint that they would rather you pay by cash or credit card. Personally, I don't understand why so many people still prefer checks. It's much more work to write out a check than swipe a card. I only use em to pay my rent, everything else is either credit card or paid online.

Why hint? (2.75 / 4) (#14)
by FriedLinguini on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:31:06 PM EST

Why not just stop accepting checks?

[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by Electric Angst on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:38:22 PM EST

There are some people who simply prefer to pay with checks, and don't mind the security measures. In fact, there's obviously enough to be profitable, or else this system will cease to exist very shortly...


--
I fly the UN Flag.
[ Parent ]
Related story on Ananova (3.60 / 5) (#4)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:05:56 AM EST

There was a similar story on Ananova, the UK news site, about the introduction of fingerprinting for credit card use. It seems to be the coming thing, but I didn't know it was already happening for cheques.

Out of interest, what country, city and state are you in, if you don't mind my asking?
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

Location (none / 0) (#6)
by catseye on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:16:46 AM EST

I'm in Central Texas in the US.

[ Parent ]
Was this in the US?? (3.00 / 9) (#8)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:31:02 AM EST

I see a lot of people here saying "it isn't so bad" or "they can do what they want"--as if that then required ME to do what they want. I'm with you, the first time I'm asked for a fingerprint I'll laugh in the clerk's face and walk out, never to return. I don't give out my SSN or phone number, either.

Play 囲碁
Re: Was this in the US?? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by gametheory on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:12:01 PM EST

I see a lot of people here saying "it isn't so bad" or "they can do what they want"--as if that then required ME to do what they want. I'm with you, the first time I'm asked for a fingerprint I'll laugh in the clerk's face and walk out, never to return. I don't give out my SSN or phone number, either.

Well, in all fairness folks are free to refuse the terms of purchase; ie, take the check back from the clerk and rip it up (Or Shred it, which is, IMHO a better idea. Shredders are cheap these days, and *oh* so much fun).

I can understand not wanting to give out your SSN; I wouldn't either. But unless you have a private phone number, that information is publically available anyways.

I think it's important to remember *why* the retail chains started doing this, though. They're treating their customers like potential criminals because the cost of not doing so has caught up to them; Fraud has become common and costly enough that they have to risk alienating their customers in this way.

Personally, while I dislike the idea of being in some corporations database, I've grown used to the idea that it is probably far too late to do anything about it. For now, I take small comfort in the notion that if somebody should lift my checkbook, odds are they'll have a harder time using it to actually write checks. Small comfort, indeed, as they'll have my address, name, and bank account number. But, you have to take what you can get ;).

-GT

[ Parent ]

I don't use checks (3.20 / 5) (#9)
by yosemite on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:48:54 AM EST

.. for retail purchases for a number of reasons:
  • It's a drag to carry around a checkbook while shopping. I don't carry a purse or backpack, so I've either got to hold it in my hand, or stick it in my pocket (where it's prone to getting damaged, falling out, or getting picked).
  • I don't like how long it takes to fill out, especially when there are a bunch of people in line behind me waiting for their turn
  • As the article points out, the requirements for using them are becoming increasingly Draconian
I do use checks, all the time -- but just to pay bills. For retail purchases, I use cash or credit card.

Of course what's really interesting is the contrast between using checks and credit cards: to "just say charge it", all you need is the card and (sometimes) the ability to produce a reasonable duplicate of the signature on the back of the card. And, if you're buying something over the phone or internet, all you need is the number...

--
[Signature redacted]

Partial solutions, maybe (4.00 / 3) (#15)
by mbrubeck on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:33:49 PM EST

Of course what's really interesting is the contrast between using checks and credit cards: to "just say charge it", all you need is the card and (sometimes) the ability to produce a reasonable duplicate of the signature on the back of the card.
If you write "See ID" in the signature strip of your credit cards, some merchants will ask for a photo/signature ID (e.g. driver's license) before accepting the card. I see a lot of these at the bookstore where I work, and it is our store policy to honor the request. Not all stores do, but it may be enough to deter theft. I also see a lot of credit cards with photographs printed on the face.

At the bookstore we also examine signatures on both checks and bank cards, record license numbers on checks, and test all checks against a list of known stolen or fraudulent accounts. We catch a significant amount of fraud, so we consider the hassle worthwhile. Personally, I like knowing that if my wallet were stolen, conscientious retailers might catch the crook. I wouldn't submit to fingerprinting, though. I don't want to have biometric data recorded by random companies.

And, if you're buying something over the phone or internet, all you need is the number...
This is a much bigger problem. I'm interested to see if the smart cards that Visa is issuing will go anywhere. I've seen a few of these at the store. Currently they're only useful as ordinary bank cards, but inside each one is a Java processor and built-in symmetric and asymmetric cryptography libraries. The software is user-upgradeable, and there are already a couple of experimental websites where you can use these smart cards to do secure zero-knowledge authentication. And surprisingly, most smartcard equipment manufacturers seem to agree on the basic standards, so smartcards should be generally interoperable.

I'm thinking about applying for one of the Visa cards just to play with - no cost if I never use it. One of the banks is even offering a free card reader, so I could write my own software for it. (You can also get cards and readers from companies like Gemplus.) I think it'd be fun to code up a PAM module so that I can log into my computer by scanning the card and typing a short PIN.

[ Parent ]

Need a little more than just the number... (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by xaositec on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:47:55 PM EST

I recently made a rather large purchase online from two separate vendors. Both of these vendors asked for a credit card, obviously. in addition, they checked with teh credit card company to make sure my address for shipping matched the billing address on the card. If I wanted to ship somewhere else (which I did), I had to call my credit card company and register that alternate address with them, going through all of their security measures.

It would seem to me that I am being forced through the very same hoops that the brick and mortar stores are using.



[ Parent ]
Better rates for merchants (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by Ian Clelland on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 06:52:25 PM EST

I know that Visa will give online merchants much better conditions if they require their customers to provide the billing address exactly as it appears on the credit card statement. The VisaNet transaction gateways will process this data in real time and use it to authorise the transaction.

For the credit card companies, it's all about reducing the percentage of chargebacks due to fraud. The merchants in this case are just trying to get the best rate they can on their CC transactions.

So now someone needs to have my Visa statement, stolen from my mailbox, before they can impersonate me, where before they could get away with just the physical card itself.

At least they can't purchase anything at a physical store with just the statement (small consolation...)

[ Parent ]

UK (3.00 / 5) (#10)
by pallex on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 11:51:55 AM EST

Some shops in the UK have been testing this out too. They claim its just a trial, and they`ll destroy the prints afterwards. But they already use them in prisons here.
I`d imagine the shops (or more accurately, banks) are trying to limit the huge amount of fraud that goes on. It`ll probably be another couple of years until `smart card` credit cards are about.

Smart cards + fingerprint (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by mbrubeck on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:46:49 PM EST

There are already a number of combined smartcard + fingerprint solutions, including this one and this one. These devices could be manufactured so that they only sent fingerprints directly to the smartcard (which would have a copy of the biometric data stored in ROM, inaccessible except by the card's onboard software). Your card would be protected against theft, without giving the merchant a chance to record your fingerprint.

The same idea works of course to combine smartcards and other biometric authentication (voice prints, retina scan, handprint...). The neat thing is that the cards are already available and in circulation, and can be upgraded with these features as they become available.

[ Parent ]

They exist, (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by pallex on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:08:26 PM EST

but the difference between a working demo product, and a working product rolled out to millions of customers, and the hardware/training needed to use them in thousands of shops, is a lot of time and money!! Seriously, i`d expect to see smart(credit)cards (of any flavour) in about 2 or 3 years time!

[ Parent ]
May be sooner than you think (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by mbrubeck on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:35:15 PM EST

but the difference between a working demo product, and a working product rolled out to millions of customers, and the hardware/training needed to use them in thousands of shops, is a lot of time and money!! Seriously, i`d expect to see smart(credit)cards (of any flavour) in about 2 or 3 years time!
Yes, the infrastructure for making full use of the cards is still a couple years off, but as I mentioned in another post, the cards themselves are already in circulation. I work in retail, and we are already seeing quite a few of these in customers' hands. They're also being advertised very agressively by Visa and the issuing banks.

The credit card companies seem to have avoided a big part of the chichen-and-egg problem for smartcards. The cards are useful as credit cards right now, so banks are replacing their old plastic with new microchip cards and it makes no difference to their customers. So the consumer half of the deployment is already well underway, and soon the merchants will be able to roll out their side of the infrastructure and find a full-grown customer base already in place.

It's also notable that the exact same cards are in widespead use in industries aside from banking. New ID cards for government and military personnel are using the exact same smartcard technology that banks are using for credit cards. The cards are also already in use as prepaid phone cards in Japan, and as subway fare cards in some cities. The research and development is essentially done; big companies are already producing the hardware by the millions, and the major credit card companies have been planning their deployment for a decade now. All that's left is the actual rollout to the consumer market, which is going on around us as we speak. I think a useful smartcard infrastructure may be closer than you think.

We need to start thinking about what this means to us. Big corporations have been planning for this for a long time, but there seems to be little awareness in the geek community. Cheap, widespread tamper-resistant crypto hardware is a big change for cryptography and security. It means that a lot of cypherpunk ideas will suddenly become more practical, but it could also give corporations more power over intellectual property and personal information. We need more people working on uses for smart cards and similar systems that will benefit the public instead of just making money for a few corporations.

[ Parent ]

Dont worry (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by pallex on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:08:53 AM EST

about `intellectual property and personal information`. Thats not the point of these cards.

(I work in a retail related industry too!).
They just dont want stolen cards used. Thats about it. Theres not a great deal of info on the cards - its just basically the persons name and an account number; the info is held by the bank.

I doubt the shops/banks would be able to gather any more information using a smart card above just using a regular card. Shops have been doing profiling for years, you dont need a smart card for that. You dont even need a credit card; thats what loyalty cards are all about.



[ Parent ]
Already About (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by Aztech on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:13:55 AM EST

I've had a VISA SmartCard from Egg.com since around 1999, they're basically the same cards you find in DVB satellite boxes and GSM SIM's. (Sony WEGA's have them now also).

However since most shops still have the old magnetic swipe PDQ's I've only used the Chip on one occurrence in a new shop. I've seen some SmartCard readers that plug into your USB port and secure web transactions, since you only transmit a onetime challenge code nobody can get hold of your card number, if somebody intercepts your transmission the information would be of no use.

The readers are relatively cheap to produce since most of the hard work goes on inside the chip on the card, Compaq are going to start shipping keyboards with a built in reader apparently. I believe AmericanExpress send you a free reader when you sign up for their Blue card, they're only about $25 if you have to buy one.

[ Parent ]
Ugh (3.62 / 8) (#12)
by RangerBob on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:13:42 PM EST

This is exactly the reason I've stopped doing my most of my purchases at brick and mortar stores. Yeah, there are dangers of purchasing online. Yes, you can still be tracked by your credit card number. But, when I purchase online, all I have to do is give my number and expiration. When I try to write a check at a local store, I'm harassed by some teenager who wants me to provide two forms of ID, my date of birth, phone number, drivers license number, etc etc. I'm surprised they don't want my DNA sequence (oops, just gave someone an idea). What's wierd is that if you refuse to give a phone number, they usually freak as if all of the other information can't be used to find you. I usually give them the store's number as mine just to see if they notice: no one has yet.

It's really sad that with all the concern about data mining through online purchases and the like that the traditional brick and mortar stores are the ones who are asking for FAR more personal information. I've found several cases where my old phone number was given out to friends of employees because they thought I was someone else in town (teenage kid here has my same first and last name). Even paying for high dollar items with cash can get you asked for your id in some of these stores. It's sad when these stores make it worth the risk of buying things online.

I don't buy it (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by shadarr on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 05:49:01 PM EST

Cash is the most anonymous method of payment in existence, and you can't use it online. There is nothing preventing you from hitting the bank machine prior to making a purchase, nor is there any reason you can't use your credit card. I've never been to a store which wanted more information than an online retailer when I use Visa. I've also never been asked for id when paying cash, but I know what I'd do. I'd say no, and if they wouldn't sell it to me I'd write down any pertinent information (preferably with their pen and paper) and go buy it somewhere else.

[ Parent ]
Are finger prints that unique? (4.14 / 7) (#13)
by kayiwa on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:21:07 PM EST

A while back I read an article that questions the assumptions about finger print uniqueness. What are the chances that someone could already have your *identity?*

Here we go... (3.28 / 7) (#17)
by Elendale on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:45:29 PM EST

Yet another reason to pay in cash.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


Yep (3.50 / 4) (#46)
by Langley on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:50:07 PM EST

As long as you don't purchase too much with cash. Otherwise the DEA will then think you're a criminal :)



A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. -Abraham Lincoln (Sixteenth President of the United States of America)
[ Parent ]
Cash (3.33 / 3) (#60)
by traphicone on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 07:54:25 PM EST

Hehehe. Of course, they get your fingerprints when you pay with cash, too.

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium
[ Parent ]
Let me get this straight... (3.75 / 8) (#18)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:45:54 PM EST

You are concerned about what will be done with your fingerprint. You think that the evil, nasty shoe store will match that information up with some hidden database detailing your every activity. This outrages you, because it invades your privacy. It also links your purchase to a long list of things that you have bought in the past, through this hidden database.

So, you instead pay with a credit card. Smart.

Big deal. They wanted your print. Did you complain when the government wanted your print? Of course not. You realize that it's important, for the safety of the government, that they assume everybody's a criminal until proven otherwise. I think this is the only way to go, when it comes to security.

So why get your panties in a bunch (just an expression) because a company also assumes that you are a criminal. So they wanted your print. Big deal. Even if you didn't give a fingerprint, the very act of using a check tells the company more about you than with a credit card. Oh, look! There's your address, right there on the check! Oh, look! There's your bank's name and your account number! Sometimes, there's your phone number! Great! Wow, isn't that neat?

If you're going to get angry about losing your privacy, you have to look at the big picture. Having your thumbprint taken is the least of your worries.

Not so much privacy (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by catseye on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:05:04 PM EST

It's not so much about losing privacy... We really have very little of that left anymore, and within the next 30 years, I'm not sure we'll have any.

It's about being treated like a criminal. I simply just don't like that. I don't like being fingerprinted at a store because I want to use a check. I don't like having some 70-year old woman wearing far too much makeup and a cheap black wig look through my bags and compare my purchases to my receipt when I leave Wal-Mart. (I complained loudly to anyone I could find, including store managers, about that little bit of indignity. I'm assuming others did as well because it only lasted a week.) I don't like leaving my purse/bag/whatever at the desk when I go into a store.

I'm not a criminal, don't treat me like one.

I understand why businesses do it, but there have to be better solutions... or at least solutions that don't treat honest people like crooks. The above measures don't even begin to catch the most common types of shoplifters anyway.

Not to mention that store employees can just be stupid. I watched check fraud being committed in front of me in the line at a clothing store, and I even mentioned to the clerk and the asst. manager that it /was/ check fraud, and they didn't seem to think it was. (Both the manager and the clerk were about 18 or 19, btw... and while I'm not a fan of age discrimination, I really don't think an 18 year old has the life experience to be the manager of anything.) These two teenage girls had one of their father's unsigned checks and the store actually accepted it for several hundred dollars worth of clothing, because the girls knew their father's birth date. That was good enough, apparently. They never stopped to think, "Gee, maybe these kids stole a check out of their father's checkbook and wanted to go on a shopping spree."

In short... I'm not stupid, and I'm not dishonest, yet I'm paying for the fact that most people seem to be. Real Life should not be like kindergarten. Punish the criminals, not everyone else.



[ Parent ]
Counterpoints... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:27:48 PM EST

It's not so much about losing privacy... We really have very little of that left anymore, and within the next 30 years, I'm not sure we'll have any.

Well, that seems a bit extreme to me. From what I can see, we are losing privacy, and that is true. But to extrapolate that information out to 30 years? Any good scientist or statistician will warn about using too few data points when extrapolating, and I really feel that there are not nearly enough data points in the set right now.

It's about being treated like a criminal. I simply just don't like that

That was one of my initial points. Did you mind when you got fingerprinted for your handguns? No. I'm currently in the process of getting security clearance from the US Government. I'm a trustworthy person, but they are treating me like a criminal, because they don't believe me, and want to check the facts. They're going to find that I AM a trustworthy person (hopefully, otherwise I'm out of a job) and as a result of which, they are going to trust me.

I fail to see a distinction between the two scenarios. In both cases, we have an institution that knows absolutely nothing about me, except for the fact that I want them to have faith that I am telling the truth as to my true identity and, in the case of the government, how little chance I have to turn against the government.

I'm not stupid, and I'm not dishonest

And how do we know that? How does a store know that? How does the government know that? They don't. Which is EXACTLY why fingerprinting is necessary in cases of fraud. You have to choose: either have no verification of any kind and let fraud run rampant, or have strong verification and keep what's rightfully yours.

[ Parent ]

Fingerprints are not strong verification (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by mbrubeck on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:05:40 PM EST

You have to choose: either have no verification of any kind and let fraud run rampant, or have strong verification and keep what's rightfully yours.
Fingerprints are hardly strong after-the-fact verification. The store can only possibly catch people whose fingerprints are already on file with legal authorities. They provide no new deterrent for the majority of the population. I want stronger fraud protection, but this isn't it. Trying to patch up paper checking (which accounts for most of the fraud at our bookstore) through obscene invasions of privacy will still leave gaping holes for criminals, and create new problems for everyone.

The more information individuals are expected to give out on a daily basis, the more chances for information to be stolen or intercepted. A good authentication system protects the customer's privacy as well as their money. Zero-knowledge authentication is not just a benefit for the user; it also enhances the strength of the system itself. Truly well-designed systems will benefit both customers and merchants.

[ Parent ]

They will still work just as well... (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by wonko on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:59:09 PM EST

I don't think the idea here is to compare fingerprints with criminal records. As you said, that would be ineffective if a store got a fraudulent check from a person who had no criminal record.

While waiting in line at the checkout stand in my local Haggen supermarket, I noticed a note taped just under the register that said, "Do not accept checks from anyone named John Smith, James Smithers, or Johnson Smithe. This individual has been writing bad checks under these pseudonyms." (I changed the names, of course).

But I think that's basically what in-store fingerprinting is for, only it's more effective. If a store gets a bad check, they've got the person's fingerprint on file. They flag it. Next time that person tries to purchase something at that store with a check, the computer realizes they've written a bad check before and warns the clerk, who can then insist on cash or another form of payment.

No criminal record required.

[ Parent ]

Facts incorrect (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by mbrubeck on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:55:57 PM EST

I don't think the idea here is to compare fingerprints with criminal records.
Actually, that is exactly what CrimeBite is doing. This is quite clear from their web site: If the check is returned, the FingerPrint Signature is used by the local law enforcement to prosecute the crime.
If a store gets a bad check, they've got the person's fingerprint on file. They flag it. Next time that person tries to purchase something at that store with a check, the computer realizes they've written a bad check before and warns the clerk, who can then insist on cash or another form of payment.
This would require the technology to keep a database of fingerprint characteristics and do quick matching against that database. This would be quite an expense for a point-of-sale terminal, and in any case isn't being offered by companies like CrimeBite.

If it were, I would be even more alarmed that private companies were building up their own databases of biometric characteristics. Even the police have to meet certain conditions before they can record a suspect's fingerprints (for example, they can't take fingerprints from suspects under 15).

[ Parent ]

Well (5.00 / 3) (#35)
by RangerBob on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:16:56 PM EST

I dunno, I work for the government also, and I see a big diffence here. If you need a security clearance for the government, that probably means you're doing something that requires a bit more trust than going to a mom and pop grocery store and picking up some food. Why do you get fingerprinted and everything for security clearances or handguns? Because they require quite a bit more background checks and the like than buying milk at the corner grocery store.

It's simplistic for everyone to keep thinking that you're being treated as a criminal just because someone wants to check up on you. There are varying degrees of trust. It's not binary, where you trust someone completely or not at all. In the case of getting a clearance, that means that you need a higher level of trust to perform your job duties than other people do. It's really not that different from me coming up to you and saying "Hey, I'm trustworthy, so why don't you give me the keys to your house." You might trust me in some ways, but not in others.

Also, I might remind ya that quite a few government security clearances require that you not admit to having one either way. You might remember that if you wanna keep yours :) Yes, depending on the type, you really can loose it if you say you have it.

[ Parent ]
Differences (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 04:08:58 PM EST

I understand your point; there is a difference in how the information is being used. The security check is being used to determine trustworthiness so that a problem never happens, while the check scenario is to prevent repeat occurrences.

I similarly agree that trust is not binary; there are quite a few levels of trust, as you very aptly pointed out. I guess I see the check thumbprint verification as being on the low spectrum of accusations. I have no problem giving a thumbprint as ID, just as I have no problem showing my Driver's License when I want into a bar, or when paying with a check. They need to know that I am who I say I am, and that's all there is.

Thank you for the tip about security clearances. I was unaware of such a restriction. I actually do not work for the government directly, I work for a subcontractor. We have different color ID badges depending on whether or not we have clearance to see what lies behind certain closed doors, so I don't think secrecy is essential in this case, as anybody can know just by examining your mandatory ID badge. But thanks for the tip, in any case.

[ Parent ]

Controlling who can see your clearance (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by Ian Clelland on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 07:04:17 PM EST

I don't think secrecy is essential in this case, as anybody can know just by examining your mandatory ID badge. But thanks for the tip, in any case.

Not anybody - only the people who are already on the site can see your clearance by examining your badge. Are you allowed to wear the badge when you are not on site?

I have heard that many government badges must be worn when and only when the holder is in a restricted area. Wearing them off-site is equivalent to telling an outsider your security clearance, and can be considered a breach of security.

[ Parent ]

The Criminal Element (4.25 / 4) (#28)
by darthaggie on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:34:17 PM EST

So why get your panties in a bunch (just an expression) because a company also assumes that you are a criminal.

Maybe it's because they should treat people like paying customers, not thieves?

Just a guess...

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Assumptions (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:58:02 PM EST

But you see, you're saying that stores should treat every customer as though they are paying customers. Let's look at it from their point of view.

They don't know you. They are being given a piece of paper with some writing on it. That piece of paper may be legal tender, once the full process of verification has been completed. If the paper is later determined not to be legal tender, then they have given away merchandise for free.

It's not a bad idea, in management, to assume guilt and then later prove innocence. In law, it's the other way around, but we're not dealing with law here.

[ Parent ]

Anti Theft door systems (none / 0) (#79)
by Mitheral on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:43:25 PM EST

OK a little rant on my pet peeve of stores treating customers like criminals:
I hate those tag systems that set off alarms when you exit the store if the sales droid hasn't deactivated the tag properly. After spending 10 minutes and repeated attempts trying to exit an A&B Sound store a few months back, I've resolved not to stop when the bells go off.

It seems to happen about once a month and as of yet I've had no one follow me into a parking lot. I guess the fact that someone doesn't act like a good little shopper is so foreign to these people that they don't know what to do. If they did I'd insist they arrest me and then make waves when they found nothing stolen.

[ Parent ]

Shoplifting sensors... (none / 0) (#92)
by SvnLyrBrto on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 09:58:29 PM EST

I hate the things. But once upon a time I had no ends of fun with them.

Once, a friend of mine who worked at walmart smuggled a box of the stick on tags that go on CDs, out the back door.

Those were no ends of fun... being them in (the "in" doors had no sensors then), and attach them to random people. Or stick one to the bottom of your shoe, cause a scene when it goes off on your way out, demand to see the manager, and act all pissed off until they give you store credit to get rid of you (big chains like Walmart are SOOOO willing to give you store credit for things like that).

Or, even better, one of my first cellphones, an early model (American market) Ericcson digital cellphone... if a call was in progress, it would set off certian anit-shoplifting detectors from a good ten feet away.

With that one, Id call my answering machine at home, drop the phone in my pocket, and wander through the mall, setting off those sensors at my whim. It was funny as HELL, watching the rent-a-pigs scurry about, a proper course of action never entering their microbrains.

How or why that cellphone did that, I don't know. I've never had another cellphone that did the same, and that one only did it on certian antishoplifting detectors (a certian brand or model I guess).

I keep meaning to do enough research to build a device that I can duplicate the effect tho.... just never had the time and inclination simultaneously.


cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Huh? (2.50 / 2) (#31)
by delmoi on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:44:39 PM EST

Did you complain when the government wanted your print? Of course not.

What country do you live in?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
The USA (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:55:18 PM EST

I was responding to the fact that he was asked for his prints while doing a security check (which I also had to recently perform; I did so with no complaints).

[ Parent ]
Credit Cards (3.00 / 3) (#42)
by Legolas on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:42:13 PM EST

So, like, I was at a resturant the other day, and decided to pay with my VISA. BIG MISTAKE. Can you believe those sons-of-bitches wanted my SIGNATURE to allow the payment? I mean, damn, I bet they're going to forward it as a handwritting sample to the CIA, FBI, NSA, Interpool, and other international spy organizations. I proceeded to tear up my bill, and bitchslap the ho clerk!@ DAMN!@

*cough*... point understood?

--Legolas

[ Parent ]
What was your tone? (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:49:50 PM EST

I'm a little confused by your comment; Was it in support of my argument or against it? In my first 2 paragraphs, I was pointing out the fallacy of complaining loudly about having a thumbprint taken and then allowing your credit card to be imprinted. It seemed to me that the author was merely trading one form of purchase tracking for another.

Please clarify your statements. Thanks.

[ Parent ]

Sarcasm... (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by Legolas on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:58:56 PM EST

... is the word. I agree with your comments, insomuch as that the author of this story is a raving lunitic ;) Especially since he seems to be missing the Big Picture.
(Or something like that. I hate explaining jokes and whatnot. My post here pretty much explains my views.)

--Legolas

[ Parent ]
That's what I thought (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by baberg on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 04:12:04 PM EST

Sorry to make you explain the joke; I also hate them. But it was the last line of your comment, point understood?, that had me wondering if you were addressing me with the sarcasm or the author. And yes, the author is missing the big picture. It's something I've said over and over...

There are plenty of things in this world to get mad about: x is not one of them

and in this case, x is fingerprinting

[ Parent ]

Under a rock.... (3.28 / 7) (#22)
by xaositec on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 12:53:12 PM EST

I really hate to tell you, but groceries and other retail stores have had the ability to do this (and the policy too) for well over ten years now.

Way back when I had a job as a clerk, we were 'required' to fingerprint any checks over a certain amount. As I said, this was well over ten years ago. This is old news.



Bad Checks (4.00 / 8) (#30)
by Merk00 on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 01:37:10 PM EST

Personally I enjoyed the tactic taken by one store I saw while driving. There was a marquee in front of the store, the type that would normally have an advertisement on it. Instead of the latest sale, the marquee had the name of the last person who passed a bad check along with a message to that effect. Effective and a lot cheaper than a fingerprint scanner.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission

Theft (none / 0) (#74)
by Mitheral on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:05:46 PM EST

Of course if that check was stolen then the store is delivering a double wammy to some poor soul.

[ Parent ]
Fighting back... (4.23 / 13) (#33)
by Signal 11 on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:10:45 PM EST

Business' often ask me for my driver's license, or my fingerprint, or two forms of ID, or my home address, phone number, cell phone, work phone, a second address, etc.

You know what I usually say? "No."

You know what they usually do? They finish the transaction. You have money. They want it. If you threaten to take your business elsewhere, you're making a big point. Radio Shack does this all the time - "Can I have your zip code?" "No." *pause* and then they continue.

What's the worst they're going to do? Deny you purchasing that product. Big deal. I'd rather do business with a company that trusts the customer.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

What harm is your zip code? (3.00 / 6) (#41)
by xaositec on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:41:29 PM EST

I seriously do not understand why people complain about things like this. They are asking for your zip code for marketing purposes. This, in no way, impinges on your freedom as an individual. Grow up.



[ Parent ]
Complaining (4.00 / 4) (#43)
by Legolas on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:46:53 PM EST

This isn't really complaining. Just saying "no" (or, alternatively, surrendering a fake phone number/zip code/etc.), instead of making a big deal about it (yelling, asking to speak with the manager, etc) really makes it a non-issue, and is the mature way to handle it. I don't want to give free marketing info. The cashier doesn't care (they just have to ask). Oh well. Life goes on. It works for me.

--Legolas

[ Parent ]
Why I hate the zip code thing. (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by bigdavex on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:52:10 AM EST

I seriously do not understand why people complain about things like this. They are asking for your zip code for marketing purposes. This, in no way, impinges on your freedom as an individual. Grow up.
I agree it's not about personal freedom. It's just a waste of time and unproffesional.

Here's what I want. I want to buy stuff. I give the clerk money. He gives me stuff. End of transaction.

Imagine if the the clerk and customer are code. Is the proper prototype something like this?
int BuyStuff(int objectID, int moneyOffered, int paymentType, int ZIP)

Hell no! They get marketing information; I get hassled. It's completely irrelevant to our transaction. They might find it useful to know the size of my penis, or my dog's name for marketing reasons. Why should they expect to get this?

[ Parent ]

No (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by Trollspotter on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:16:31 PM EST

No. Giving them your zip code is part of the transaction, they decided to make it part. If you don't like to give it out, shop somewhere where they don't ask.

[ Parent ]
Unilateral? (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by bigdavex on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 10:25:52 PM EST

No. Giving them your zip code is part of the transaction, they decided to make it part. If you don't like to give it out, shop somewhere where they don't ask.
In reality, I just politely refuse and we conduct the transaction anyway. So, no I don't think it's part of the transaction. It's just some thing they want you to do. Maybe it's part of the transaction if the clerk and you decide it is.

I'd be surprised if there are businesses that actually insist.

[ Parent ]

no you dont (none / 0) (#84)
by ChannelX on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 05:38:38 PM EST

You dont get hassled. They can't hassle you simply from your zip code and they arent hassling you from asking (look up the word in a dictionary). They are gathering information on where their sales are coming from. Most people dont seem to realize exactly how hard it is for stores to convert visitors to sales. They want to know where to concentrate their efforts.

[ Parent ]
Looked it up -- Yes they do (none / 0) (#91)
by bigdavex on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 05:55:24 PM EST

Here's what Merriam_webster has on hassle: . . . transitive senses : to annoy persistently or acutely So, yeah, they do that.

[ Parent ]
i still disagree (none / 0) (#95)
by ChannelX on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 03:19:55 PM EST

Do they keep pestering you non-stop until you give up the information? Do they follow you out of the store asking you for the information? Or do they go on with the transaction if you say you wont give the information? 1 & 2 are hassling.... 3 is not.

[ Parent ]
Doesn't always work... (none / 0) (#76)
by fenix down on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:56:46 PM EST

At Sports Authourity they asked me for my zip code AND my phone number, and I was paying cash! I normally "just say no" too, but SA had built the questions into the register. The girl couldn't go on without putting something in, and the drawer wouldn't open until it finished, so paying cash didn't get around it. She asked me to make some numbers up for her, so I used the White House zip (20500) and 314-159-2653 (i use those two every time I buy something that needs numbers).

While she got the change, she explained that she had to get something from me becase she was specifically forbidden to make up numbers for the customers. It sounded like almost no one wants to give the info.

This is NJ, so I don't know how SA works elsewhere. Most national chain stores arround here (like Staples, CompUSA, etc.) have the same kind of built in zip code prompt, but SA is the only one who asks for a phone number.

Unfortunately, I give out my home phone less often than the first 10 digits of pi now. Last week at the dentist I caught myself putting pi on one of the forms. Gak.

[ Parent ]

Seed the data base with bogus information (none / 0) (#80)
by Mitheral on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:46:14 PM EST

I always give nosey stores the phone number, address, and postal code of the local RCMP (police) office. it's just obscure enough that no ever questions it and I figure anything the store wants to sell me the police can probably use more :).

[ Parent ]
ID & such (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 01:20:03 PM EST

I haven't (thank God) worked in retail for a while, but back in my Sears days I, for one, had no problem losing a sale to a customer who didn't want to provide what the store asked to take a check.

I explained that the policy was optional, in the sense that cash transactions, for instance, had no such requirements, and that of course neither law nor morality compelled us to accept checks at all, that they were a convenience for some of our customers and that, like all conveniences, they came at a price. I was always polite, but I was nonetheless firm.

I'm also the kind of prick who compared signatures on credit cards, and asked for ID if I didn't like the match (or if there were no signature, in which case I also explained that the blank should at least be filled in, and that some cards actually were supposed to be unacceptable if unsigned). I also refused to take, "it's my mom's card".

Of course, I live in a state that once issued a replacement driver's license in the name of a middle-aged Greek guy to his 20-something African-American murderer ("Gosh, Mr Popodopolous, you sure are fit for a man your age!"), so that particular credential had limited credibility in my eyes.

[ Parent ]

I WORK for RadioShack, and I hate it (4.00 / 2) (#90)
by discoflamingo13 on Fri Aug 10, 2001 at 01:18:39 AM EST

I've been working my "summer job" at RadioShack for about 3 months now, and the stupidest thing about an otherwise decent job (in a disgustingly long line of stupid things) is the N+A (Names and Addresses) percentage we're asked to uphold. If you fall below a 75% N+A hit rate at the average RS for more than a month, this is considered reasonable grounds for termination. Thankfully (or not), this has never been a problem for me - most of the people who come in never question why somebody wants their name and address, and chalk it up to "the price of doing business."

And you know what? Tandy (the owners of Radio Shack) has determined that only 15% of people asked will balk at the idea of giving out their name and address, and that we should not hesitate to apologize for asking one of these "blessed few." The saddest thing is, they're almost dead right- at my last supervisory meeting, my N+A was 90%.

Now, the upside of this is that Tandy has a firm grip on centralizing their marketing data from all of their satellite stores, because none of the stores are networked together to share data - twice a month, the central server at Ft. Worth, Texas combines the data from all of the satellite stores. Also, at the risk of sounding like a corporate zombie, Radio Shack has never, and will never, sell their customer data to anyone at any price. They will, however, share it with their affiliates (RCA, M$, Sprint, Verizon), under the stipulation that it belongs to Radio Shack, and can be taken back at the customer's request. And unlike most of the companies I've dealt with (BMG and Columbia House being the worst offenders), they will actually remove you from all of their mailing lists at your request. I suppose this is the main benefit of a poorly implemented, single point of failure database collection scheme.



The more I watch , the more I learn -
If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.

-Course of Empire
[ Parent ]
Kind of ironic... (3.33 / 9) (#36)
by jd on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 02:21:57 PM EST

America is the "land of freedom", and people religiously guard their freedom to do what they like, including when it imposes or harms others.

Now, I'm not going to argue that a shop fingerprinting is "the same as" zealots arming and fortifying hills, or Governments writing CDA-type legislation, or car-owners polluting the air and poisoning the environment.

These are all VERY different activities, with wildly-different potentials for consequences. On the other hand, they ALL come from the same basic attitude: "My Freedom is Bigger, Better and Badder than Yours! So Nyah!"

Freedom does not exist in isolation. If you're isolated, freedom has no meaning, since you can't do anything. Freedom exists only because there is a society for it to exist =in=. I cannot be free to listen to, or ignore, you if I'm totally isolated from everything you say or do.

But once you - even provisisionally - accept that freedom may be a function of a larger context, then you implicitly accept that there are going to be conflicts between the freedom of person A, and the freedom of person B.

How to resolve this conflict? Well, present-day attitudes seem to hold that gun-wielding alchoholics in armor-plated monster trucks have absolute freedom, at least on the roads.

IMHO, this is not really what the Founding Fathers had in mind. I could be wrong - I can't exactly phone them up and ask - but it's my impression that they wanted a system in which nobody could dominate others and abuse them and their rights.

But how can we achieve this? Sure, there are plenty of groups who try to keep the power of Government bodies in check. There are even a few people who get concerned about over-powerful corporations (though the religion of Market Forces keeps that number down).

But who keeps individuals in check? Who stops the average man/woman in the street from coldly twisting the promise of freedom into the Nightmare from Elm Street?

These shops who fingerprint their customers - sure, you can rail against them. But are your hands so clean? All these fingerprints are about is them railing against YOU. Sure, they're treating you like a criminal. But you've been doing the same thing to them, every time you demand a receipt, cross-check the totals, or bitch about something that costs more than you expect.

I'm not saying that these shops are "right" - they're not. Fingerprints aren't going to deter thieves, and it's more a revenge thing than security, anyway. But if you expect to persuade stores to be reasonable, you've got to be reasonable yourself. Clerks aren't paid enough to take the kind of abuse they get on a daily basis. They don't get "danger money", and they don't get psychiatric treatment afterwards.

What I'm saying comes down to this. Every person, every entity, every organization that exists, or ever has existed, in America has tried to establish authority and power over every other person, entity and organization. While this continues, power-plays (such as fingerprinting) are inevitable. There is ONLY one solution. Stop this childish war! Stop vying for supremecy. Get along with each other, for a change.

Put that solution into practice, on any reasonable scale, and I feel confident that 99.9% of all "social ills" will vanish like the morning mist. There can be no gang warfare, when there are no gangs. There can be no paranoia or socio-phobia, when there is nothing feeding the monster in the mind.

If all this sounds bizare, unworkable, incomprehensible and the ravings of a lunatic, I accept that might well be true. I don't care. I prefer the company, and at least I'm not (likely) to get nailed to any trees, unlike another guy who said much the same thing, 2000 years ago.

Treating corps. like criminals (4.00 / 2) (#38)
by fooljay on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:10:05 PM EST

Sure, they're treating you like a criminal. But you've been doing the same thing to them, every time you demand a receipt, cross-check the totals, or bitch about something that costs more than you expect.

That's called a transaction, no? I have the right to do all of those things, just as they have the right to count the money I hand to them.

This whole issue is not really about being treated like a criminal so much as it is about the businesses trying to reduce the uncertainty in the transaction. As a consumer, I have uncertainty in the transaction too—the product may not work as advertised, may not wash well or whatever. The business has uncertainty in the transaction—mainly the uncertainty of being paid.

It's a shame that they think that this is the best way to fix the problem. What's worse is that there are a vast majority of people who won't think twice about complying. Privacy can be paid for with convenience. Unfortunately it can also be stolen through ignorance...

Also, please don't confuse an individuals rights with those of a corporation. Businesses are inherently soul-less profit machines and if they act otherwise it is because of the people inside of the business. They exist for one thing and one thing only: extracting the maximum amount of profit from the world. Can't blame 'em for it, that's how capitalism works. But you also can't extend certain courtesies and freedoms to businesses that are given to individuals. By the same token, we should also avoid tacitly confusing the business with the people who work there...

[ Parent ]

Freedom (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by jabber on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:27:02 PM EST

I disagree with your premise that Freedom does not exist in isolation. To me, isolation (as in being stranded on a desert island a'la Castaway) is the ultimate in Freedom.

Freedom, in and of itself, is a meaningless concept. It's not just an intangible abstraction, it is vaccuous. Freedom only gains meaning when it is the Freedom To something or Freedom From something..

The larger the number of variables to which you are bound, the fewer Freedoms (not Freedom as an absolute or fluid quantity, but quanta of Freedom, aka Rights) you have. The more people affect you and are affected by you, the more constrained and restricted your Freedoms become.

The bigger a government, the more Freedoms are exchanged for the benefits of such an organization. The more complex a social structure, the more Freedoms are abdicated by the individual for the benefit of the social group.

Anarchy is absolute Liberty, but with this comes Social Darwinism, and the Rights of the weak are trampled. As protection against this, governments are formed, and the individual Freedom to take whatever one wants is given up in exchange for the governmental assurance that your things will not be taken from you without 'good reason', etc, etc..

There is a completely separate discussion here, and takes us far away from the topic of the article, but we really can not discuss the taking away of Freedom without having an agreement on the meaning of the term.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Oh no! A *CONSPIRICY*! (4.20 / 10) (#39)
by Legolas on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 03:23:27 PM EST

While shopping this past weekend, I wanted to pay by check for my purchases at a national shoe store chain. The clerk explained that they now fingerprint customers who pay by check to protect against check fraud. This took me so completely by surprise that I couldn't hide my anger and indignation, and I unfortunately tore into the clerk (verbally, at least) about how stupid this policy was, whose idea it was, etc., as I ripped my check back out of her hand and tore it up. I ended up paying with a credit card and apologizing to her, since of course it wasn't her fault, but I won't shop there again.

...
Regardless of the advertising spin and the retailer's rationalization, this is not for my protection. If a store has a problem with check fraud, then they should not accept checks. Many businesses in my city no longer accept checks, due to the increasing check fraud by college students. Most banks in the area offer Visa or Mastercard check cashing cards, so that you can use them to pay out of your checking account instead of writing a check. Businesses do not have to accept checks... there are other alternatives.

Dude, you pretty much answered your own problem. This store, obviously, chooses to accept cheques for the convinence of their clients. However, they do have to cover their ass for fraud. Yes, they could just not accept cheques. However, there are obviously people who want to pay with them.

And, from a customer point of view, does it really make a different weither the store accepts cheques with a fingerprint, or doesn't accept them at all (as you seem to indicate they should), if you pay with VISA anyways? I don't think so.

Honestly, I think this is a non issue. If you don't want the store to fingerprint you, don't pay with cheques. Use your VISA, debit, or anonymous cash, and stop ragging on a service still supported, despite the risk of fraud, for the convinence of others.

--Legolas

And? (2.80 / 5) (#53)
by mc2kleen on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 04:24:21 PM EST

Yeah, so this is pretty much a normal occurance in many retail outlets. Banks have been doing this for quite some time. Like you said, due to your profession you've been fingerprinted several times. Surely you must realize that if being fingerprinted makes you uncomfortable then you could avoid paths that lead you to that end. I personally do not understand the foofaraw that is generated from writing stolen checks. It stands to reason that if someone can steal your checks, they can steal your credit cards which can be just as destructive. If I go into a grocery store, I can use a credit card, clerks don't check the signature against the one on my card because I never physically hand it to them. I can go to the movies and never have to deal with another human being. The same is true for gas stations ... etc.

So I'm not up in arms about some conspiracy theory that my check is fingerprinted and is going to go into some galactic database and I'm going to be watched by satellite intelligence high above in orbit and men in black helicopters are going to swoop down and start drilling me as to my actions ... there are far more indidious things which concern me.

-- I'm not a troll, but I play one on TV.
The subject line I wanted to write was... (3.76 / 17) (#54)
by elenchos on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 04:45:09 PM EST

..."You fucking moron!" but it is still early in the day for me and I'll wait til I've had some more coffee.

This retailer has a policy that you totally disagree with, so much that you complained to the clerk and came home and wrote a long K5 article about it.

Yet you gave them your money anyway! So what reason do they have to listen to your whines? It is pretty clear that they have found in you the perfect customer: no matter how crappy they treat you, you still do busniness with them. Why should they care how much you run your mouth about what you do and don't like, or how many empty words you write about it? They still got your money and that is the reason they exist.

And now I'm supposed to give a crap? If you insist on being a victim like that there is nothing I or anyone else can do to protect you from yourself. As long as you continue to spend money at stores that abuse you, you deserve everything you get.

Hey! Read this. That is all.

Piss off (3.66 / 3) (#64)
by catseye on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 09:19:21 AM EST

I don't really need coffee to help me write subject lines...

Yes, in this case I gave them the money anyway, because I'd spent about 45 minutes looking and finally deciding on a particular brand that no one else in town carries. They got my business, but they will not get my repeat business and I've convinced quite a few people locally not to take their business.

RE: "Why should they care how much you run your mouth about what you do and don't like, or how many empty words you write about it? They still got your money and that is the reason they exist."

They should care, because word of mouth is very powerful. This isn't Wal-Mart we're talking about here... Wal-Mart could probably insist on an anal probe at checkout and people would still go there because it's cheaper than anywhere else. It's just a shoe store chain... one of about 10 places that sells shoes in a small-town mall. They cannot survive without repeat business. Do I think my complaining will close them? No, of course not, but I think if enough of their customers complain and don't come back, they may rethink their policy. They may see at the end of their contract that they lost more money to people not coming back than they did to fraud. And I'm writing about it here because it was something new to me, technology-related, and offensive. Obviously not everyone here has heard about it, so it at least brought it to light for those that hadn't.

RE: "And now I'm supposed to give a crap?"

No, you don't have to care. See subject.

RE: "...deserve everything you get."

Again, see subject.



[ Parent ]
Hopefully this is just transitional (4.00 / 3) (#57)
by Aztech on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 05:57:40 PM EST

They've just started doing this in Britain because our fraud rates have jumped 50% year on year, the fingerprint solution is a stop gap until the new SmartCard system is fully deployed. It's possible they're readying us for a future biometric system too, which is more concerning, considering the linked nature of this.

From a rationalist point of view... do I care? Well the usual argument is "if you've got nothing to hide then you shouldn't care", but we all know the flaws in that argument. However, the police only get the fingerprinted receipts from fraudulent purchases, so I being an honest consumer know the police won't get my receipt. Also being an honest card holder, it gives me no pleasure knowing I'm paying for the riffraff that commit this type of fraud.

From the practical point of view there will probably be so much bureaucracy I doubt it would effective, but this is however a great publicity stunt and aimed at scaring fraudsters, as some of you have indicated it's not particularly nice having to give your fingerprints, even if you're totally innocent, so this will probably just scare off the petty fraudsters, of which the numbers are many. With the added bonus of getting some evidence on the big boys.

Of course... there's the risk your fingerprint will be hanging around on lots of receipts in various stores, this probably concerns me more than the police, the data protection laws should ensure the destruction/use of this data, maybe not practically, but in the legal sense.

From another point of view, as an honest consumer why should I be subject to such inconvenience because a minority of people are scumbags? I don't particularly like this move, but knowing the huge surge in fraud rates I can certainly understand it, it's no surprise the surge has given birth to these Machiavellian schemes.

The sooner they upgrade all the PDQ's to the new SmartCard system the better, of course no system is foolproof however it will eliminate the 'skimming' schemes upon which 99% of these lowlifes rely.

Paying For It (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 09:23:40 PM EST

Also being an honest card holder, it gives me no pleasure knowing I'm paying for the riffraff that commit this type of fraud.

Here's the thing; right now you are paying for fraud. We all do every time we purchase anything. We pay to cover costs from fraud, costs from shoplifting, and any other losses that a store/company incur in doing business. So what I'm wondering is this, if you assume that this practice reduces check fraud to 0% (we all know this isn't possible, but just assume it for a second), how much does that reduce your price at the counter?

If this were an honest proposal of giving up personal information in exchange for reduced prices (like a grocery store card), then I could understand. But this is a company taking away privacy in order to reduce costs, which is going straight into their coffers. They are no offering the customer discounts or anything else in return. It's because of this that I think this is going to be a shortlived phenomena. People are more than willing to sell their privacy, but very few of them will give it away for nothing.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

What went wrong in the U.K.? (2.33 / 3) (#62)
by turtleshadow on Mon Aug 06, 2001 at 10:35:02 PM EST

<rant> Ok so what went wrong in the U.K? Obviously the US is somehow reverse importing legislation/ideas from our prior tax oppressors. O'bit of our come up ance for the crap we do to our other sister nations?

Last time I worked retail the cheque companies turnaround was <24hrs in the US. I think that time could be improved if there weren't restrictions on sharing passbook info. Is your IT that bad? Are your data privacy laws that good?<br>
I thought the Brits invented the ATM and the magnetic ink readers so ubiquitious today why the substantial problem that leads to such draconian measures?
From the threads a substantial jump in fraud here would probably be a major investigation for organized crime units.
Turtleshadow

Fingerprint required for Check (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by dadunn on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 02:28:16 PM EST

It is a strange world we live in. Did you know that most retail stores forbid there associates from asking for id on a credit card purchase for fear of offending the customer, yet they want extra identification for a check. I wonder why? Maybe its because Credit Card fraud is usually eaten by the credit card companies and passed along in higher fees and interest rates. Check fraud however comes right out the the stores bottom line if they are not able to recover it from the customer. I want stores to verify that I am who I say I am. I write "Please check id" on my cards and it works about half the time. I have had a check stolen (written to a childrens hospital no less), washed and cashed for several hundred dollars. I had to prove that I did not write the check before the bank credited me back the money. My problem is not so much with having to supply my fingerprint, but how my fingerprint is stored. Is it tied to the transaction as an atomic unit or stored separately? Is it stored in binary or an image format? Is it deleted after the check clears or retained for identification matching purposes? There ought to be a standard for securing personal information that companies can certify to.

Details about print storage (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by mbrubeck on Tue Aug 07, 2001 at 06:49:02 PM EST

In particular case in this article, the fingerprint is not digitized. It is printed directly on a sticker that the clerk places on the check. Chemical "ink" and treated paper are used, so the customer's finger isn't colored or dirtied.

[ Parent ]
Actully.... (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by LiquidSex on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 01:33:09 AM EST

It's not the stores, VISA gets pissed when you ask for id and theres a signature. It's invasion of privacy or some such BS. The only times your allowed to ask for id are 1) No signature present 2) It says CID or See Photo Id or somthin 3) Signatures don't match Also the reason for the extra id for a check is because we CAN, if we could make you give us a fingerprint for a credit card you'd be giving one. If it would help cut into the billions of dollars of fraud.

[ Parent ]
one more thing (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by LiquidSex on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 01:37:40 AM EST

Why don't people use the friggin visa/mastercard card you get from the bank with your check account. At least where I live, Phoenix, almost every checking acount gets one. Why don't people use them. I hate having to run a 300 dollar check through Fry's torture test and then say, oh would it help if I gave you my check garuntee card, which is the damn visa/mastercard one... sorry bout the gripe...

[ Parent ]
Why does a felony last forever? (4.50 / 4) (#72)
by billstclair on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 06:21:53 AM EST

I discovered that I'm really tired of being treated like a criminal. I've been fingerprinted many times in my life. I've been a licensed private investigator and security guard, and had weapons licenses. All those require fingerprinting so that the applicant's prints can be checked against FBI records to prevent a convicted felon being licensed. That, in my opinion, is reasonable.

There are all sorts of ways that convicted felons are turned into second class citizens. They can't vote. They can't legally own the means of self-defense. They have a hard time getting jobs. It's no wonder that many of them continue to commit crimes. What other choice do they have?

Felons should have full rights of citizenship after they have made restitution to the victim(s) of their crime.

They don't in some countries (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by simon farnz on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 06:50:09 AM EST

In the UK, all criminal convictions expire a set amount of time after you have completed your sentence. There is an upper limit (I believe it is 11 years), and then some convictions (such as speeding) expire more quickly. Note that expiry only begins when you have completed your punishment; if you refuse to pay your fine/criminal compensation or escape from prison, your crime stays on record.

When a crime expires, it is effectively deleted from the records; I believe that it is still there, but it cannot be obtained by a civilian, or referred to in court.

The result is that criminals become normal citizens in the eyes of the law if they can stay straight for long enough after their release.
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

Hey, asshole. (3.00 / 7) (#75)
by Requiem on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 12:53:46 PM EST

On behalf of all the clerks and cashiers out there (I've worked part-time in a grocery/wholesale store for the last year and a half): fuck you. Why the hell did you tear into that poor girl, anyhow?

There's something that the collective customer of the world needs to get through their thick skull:

Cashiers do not set policy. Ever.

Cashiers do not relay your requests to management. Ever.

I ripped my check back out of her hand and tore it up.

Well, good. I'm sure the cashier was quite taken by your macho display of righteous indignation. Hell, I'm sure it made her day. Here's a quick clue for you: we're people, too. We're people making only marginally more than minimum wage (certainly not enough to live comfortably on) doing shit work. When a customer yells at me, it makes me feel like shit. Whether you want to or not, you take these things personally.

Jesus, why didn't you just politely state that you're uncomfortable with fingerprinting, and ask if there was a way around it? There usually is. Stores want your business, and a lot of policies can and will be bent. Besides, this approach has the added advantages of:

  • not making the cashier miserable
  • getting your point across to management, since the clerk will have to talk to their supervisor
  • politeness

    It's a better approach than being an asshole and then wanking about your disgust on kuro5hin, anyway.

  • Or if you're angry (none / 0) (#78)
    by simon farnz on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:43:01 PM EST

    Ask to speak to the manager. When the manager comes down, explain that you are offended by the way you have been treated, and will not be coming back; leave the goods on the counter, the transaction semi-processed, and let the manager sort the mess out.

    You still don't get to speak to someone who sets policy, but you irritate someone who can speak to the people who set policy. The store then has to restock the goods, which costs them.
    --
    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
    [ Parent ]

    Oh get over yourself already (4.50 / 2) (#81)
    by catseye on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 05:02:35 PM EST

    I already said that I apologized to her, since it obviously wasn't her fault. In fact, I said it in the same paragraph that you quoted me from. Did you just not read that far, or did you just decide you wanted to insult me so overlooked it?

    If you have never, ever, in your life gotten angry and wrongly snapped at someone, then you can chastise me for doing the same. If you have, well... pot... kettle... etc.

    RE: "...ask if there was a way around it?"

    Again, if you'd actually bothered to read past the part about yelling the cashier, you would have noticed that I paid in a different manner that didn't require fingerprinting.

    In short, get your panties out of a bunch and get over yourself. If you're so pissed off that you have a suck job and people don't treat you well, try to find a better one.



    [ Parent ]
    this is amusing (4.50 / 2) (#83)
    by ChannelX on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 05:22:10 PM EST

    I find it *highly* amusing that in a post basically calling for restraint and good manners you're, in the same breath, calling the person an asshole and saying fuck you. Please forgive us if we dont take your opinion too seriously.

    Consider this: people are people and blow up sometimes. Unfortunately for store clerks they are the face of the store and take the brunt of it. At least the poster apologized to the clerk right away...many people wouldn't bother.

    [ Parent ]

    Some reasons why this happens (3.00 / 1) (#77)
    by craigm on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 01:05:01 PM EST

    I used to work at a major retail store in Michigan (Meijer). As a cashier, we were required to use a fingerprint if the transaction was over a certain dollar amount, and the person did not have the stores "One Card" (which was a check-cashing piece of ID.) Honestly, I would never use checks to pay for groceries or retail stuff. It's just a pain in the ass for both the store and you.

    Disappointed (5.00 / 4) (#82)
    by catseye on Wed Aug 08, 2001 at 05:11:55 PM EST

    While I did not expect applause or congratulations for either my article or my actions, I certainly did not expect so many fuck you's (hell, I didn't even expect one), nor did I expect to be called an asshole, a moron, or any of the other names I've been called by some of you.

    If you don't agree with me, think I've said nothing worthwhile, or think my actions were wrong, that's fine, but is it really too much to ask for civility? It's not like I'm asking for politeness, courtesy or anything difficult... just a simple, adult coversation/debate that doesn't immediately degenerate into adolescent obscenities and juvenile name-calling.



    agreement (4.00 / 1) (#88)
    by anagram on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 03:38:37 PM EST

    I took a little offense at the insinuation that college students are the only group of people commiting credit card fraud, but I didn't bother lashing out at you over it.

    I'll leave the name calling to the assholes :) :) :)

    [ Parent ]

    Thats Life on Kuro5hin (3.50 / 2) (#89)
    by madgeo on Thu Aug 09, 2001 at 09:19:34 PM EST

    I was rather upset when I posted an article to K5 at the beginning as I got some nasty responses too. I developed a thick skin very quickly. Anyone, anywhere, could be posting a response and you shouldn't take it too personally. They often forget that Op/Ed is about opinions, not necessarily facts and then they get stupid (or stupider). Flaming responses are a sign people (even of a low sort) are reading your article!!!!

    [ Parent ]
    Looking forward to widespread biometric id (4.00 / 1) (#93)
    by maveness on Sat Aug 11, 2001 at 10:30:02 PM EST

    I don't have any problem with it. The "criminal" connotations will go away as soon as everyone's credit card has a retinal scan encoded on it that can be verified by a POS scanner. I'm happy to cooperate in efforts to ensure that fraud and identity theft are minimized.

    Every purchase you make with a credit card is already tracked and the information available for sale to those who want it badly enough. Forget your privacy -- that horse left the barn -- unless you're truly prepared to live "off the grid." (And good luck to you, it's harder than it looks!)

    Huge amounts of money are lost due to fraud, identity theft, and just basic pilfering. Those costs get passed on to the consumer. There's no guarantee, of course, that reducing those costs would cause a reduction in prices, but it might help keep them from growing.

    Anyone who's worked for the federal government recently has been fingerprinted. I worked for the Smithsonian Museum several years ago and was fingerprinted upon hire. OOoooo. I'm scared now. NOT. What do I actually have to fear from this?

    Actually, I'd be interested in hearing arguments again fingerprinting infants at birth. Think of the value of having a positive ID from day 1. Kiss cases of mistaken identity goodbye. Help identify abducted children. More sadly, identify the John and Jane Does who show up in hospitals and morgues. What's the downside? That LATER, the innocent baby might be identified as a possible malefactor because their fingerprint is associated with a crime scene -- they can be "fingered" -- and that's bad WHY?

    Even if fingerprint identification is occasionally wrong (and no human endeavor is without its margin of error), surely no one would claim it's better to have NO leads to follow than some. I just don't see what inalienable right is being threatened here.

    *********
    Latest fortune cookie: "The current year will bring you much happiness." As if.

    Wrong banking system in the US (3.00 / 1) (#94)
    by B'voYpenburg on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 11:50:46 AM EST

    I'm sorry to say that the solution of fingerprinting is only a reaction to a bad banking system. I've spent half a year in the US being surprised how BAD the banking system is. _I was appalled_ by it.

    This is generally caused by ignorant USians who cannot agree on standards. You see this in systems where unity pays off: banking/money, cellular phones, metric units. You call it freedom, I call it stupid...

    "In important discussions rationale loses over emotion", so flame me down if you feel you need to. OTOH insightfull comments are more appreciated.

    Checks Are Dead (none / 0) (#96)
    by thundt on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:06:40 PM EST

    What he doesn't say is how the systems differ. In Europe, people use EFTs as a matter of course. All you need are a sending and receiving account number, and an ordinary person can do it. Here, wire transfers are prohibitively expensive, and you need a merchant account (and, usually, some hardware) to accept an ATM transfer or credit card. Checks are, as everyone is finally figuring out, subject to bouncing and fraud (precisely because the funds are not transferred electronically and collection only attempted after-the-fact).

    This leaves the average Joe with a problem: There's no reliable, convenient, and cost-effective way to do funds transfers. It is this niche that PayPal and its competitors are filling. They are providing the clearinghouse for electronic transfers that the government currently provides for checks.

    [ Parent ]

    Form for Bank Thumbprint Programs (4.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Robin Lionheart on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 04:31:00 PM EST

    If you dislike banks wanting a thumbprint to cash a check made out to you and feel like making some trouble, you might try this:

    Try to cash the check at a branch of the bank it was drawn on. If they refuse to honor it without a thumbprint, have them sign one of Citizens for Better Government's forms stating that that is official bank policy.

    Reading it should give an inkling of the legal ramifications of withholding payment and they should capitulate.

    Verify range to target: one ping only. (2.00 / 1) (#98)
    by kitten on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 03:23:21 AM EST

    I unfortunately tore into the clerk (verbally, at least) about how stupid this policy was, whose idea it was, etc., as I ripped my check back out of her hand and tore it up.

    That's mature. Harrass a lowly clerk who had nothing to do with the policy at all, and make her feel like she did something wrong.

    This is, of course, an aside to the point of the article, but having been a clerk (now I'm a waiter and also have to deal with jackass customers), I must say that I'm appalled by the way people behave in stores and restaurants.
    Get this through your head (the collective "you"): They just work there. They do not set the policies, or the prices, or whatever else you're complaining about. In all likelihood, a clerk is well aware that the policy is stupid, but they're just doing their job.

    Furthermore, attacking a clerk because you're angry at the store a useless gesture. They are powerless to change anything even if they wanted to, which they don't. They cannot bring the issue to the attention of the management in any meaningful way, even if they wanted to, which they don't.

    However..

    I ended up paying with a credit card and apologizing to her, since of course it wasn't her fault..

    What we have here is an anomoly, but I am pleased that you recognized your action was out of line, and apologized.

    Moving along to the actual point of the article:

    Regardless of the advertising spin and the retailer's rationalization, this is not for my protection. If a store has a problem with check fraud, then they should not accept checks.

    I partially agree, but then again, you already stated that you had wished to pay by check. Because of people like you - who wish to use a check - the store accepts them. But the store also wants to protect its own ass from fraud, which is why they use the fingerprinting system.

    Businesses do not have to accept checks... there are other alternatives.

    Likewise, if the store policy of check acceptance bothers you so, you do not have to pay with a check.. there are other alternatives. Honestly I don't see what the problem here is.

    Is it going into some database to link my fingerprints with my purchasing history or the information on my check? Who is going to have access to this information? How long will it be kept on file and where would it be housed?

    Are the paranoids going to come after you@#%?

    The clerk, of course, could not answer this.

    Once again, this is not surprising. Generally, retail outlets do not ask clerks to attend meetings and briefings to explain why various policies are implemented.
    Here's how it really works: The clerk shows up for work one day in the usual manner, and the manager goes, "Okay, take register eight. Oh, and by the way, as of today, when someone pays with a check, you have to do this and this now."
    And then the clerk says "Okay," and does it.


    You know, the check also has your bank account number, your address, your phone number, your full name, and sometimes even your social security number. Most stores now have a check verification system in which the numbers at the bottom are scanned and authorized by a machine before the check is accepted, much like a credit card.
    You don't seem to have any issues with handing these out with wanton abandon, but you take up arms against a fingerprinting system. I find this to be somewhat incongruous.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    Retail Stores Beginning to Fingerprint Customers | 98 comments (98 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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