Check Fraud and Consumer Rights

Discussion
Mar 24, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Check fraud has become severe enough in some areas around the country that law enforcement officials are encouraging retailers to fingerprint shoppers paying by check.


The Washington Post reports consumers such as Ellen Mileski, an antique dealer, are unhappy with the practice. “I was really offended; I felt like a criminal.”


Beth Givens, director of the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says Ms. Mileski’s reaction is easy to understand. “The customer feels guilty until proven innocent, someone the store doesn’t trust.”


Carolyn Henneman, chief of the criminal investigations division for the Maryland attorney general’s office disagrees. This “shouldn’t be a problem to innocent people who are using their checks in good faith…(fingerprinting) will dissuade people with a record from trying to negotiate a fraudulent check.”


Moderator’s Comment: Is fingerprinting a necessary
measure that shoppers will learn to accept or is it an unnecessary invasion
of privacy?


In theory, fingerprinting should not be a problem for
the overwhelming majority of honest shoppers. The reality, however, is that
it will cause many of these same shoppers to feel embarrassed. Embarrassing
shoppers is never a good idea. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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