BofA Throws Out Customer Who Refuses To Give Thumbprint

Bank of America ejected reader Tycho after he refused to give the teller a thumbprint while cashing a check.

“Your are not a customer and I don’t have to help you.”
I asked, “What good is a BofA check if BofA wont cash it? Checks are bound by federal guidelines, it seems to me like not honoring a check to your own bank would be fraud.”
“Those rules tell me I have to get your thumb print to cash a check.”
“Show me that rule.”

Question: Can a bank legally refuse to cash your check? Can a bank legally require a thumbprint as a prerequisite for doing business?

Tycho’s letter, inside…


Tycho writes:

    “I went into a Bank of America branch on my lunch break. I had with me a check, written to me, that draws on BofA. I wished to cash it. I waited in a line of about 10 for about that many minutes. I was asked for a few forms of ID, one state issued photo ID and one other like a credit card. I produced the needed ID and was asked then for a thumb print. I politely declined. The teller was astonished. She reacted to me as though I had asked her to take the rest of the day off, completely expecting her to do so. She was totally bewildered. The exchange was polite and brief,

    “To cash this check I need your thumb print.”
    “I’m not going to give you my thumb print, how bout some more ID?”
    “I can’t do that.”
    “Do you not think I am who I say I am?”
    “I need a thumb print.”

    At this point she waved the next person in line to her. I asked to see the branch manager.

    The manager came up to me with a stack of papers she was busy with and set them down on the counter. I told her I had a check drawn on BofA that I would like to cash and the teller refused to do so. We went through the above exchange. When I offered extra ID to prove I am who I say I am, very discreetly, almost imperceptibly, she glanced at the security guard. When we got to the second “I need a thumb print.” the tete-a-tete’ took a different turn.

    “Your are not a customer and I don’t have to help you.”
    I asked, “What good is a BofA check if BofA wont cash it? Checks are bound by federal guidelines, it seems to me like not honoring a check to your own bank would be fraud.”
    “Those rules tell me I have to get your thumb print to cash a check.”
    “Show me that rule.”

    To that she made no response, glanced at the security guard who was right behind me at this point, and went about her work as if I had never walked into the bank. I asked the security guard if he could cash my check. He said no and that if I had no business at the bank, I would have to leave. I turned to the manager and said that her security guard cannot help me either. She walked away keeping her head down to avoid eye contact.

    I left, check in hand, frustrated and insulted.

    This branch is in Miami Beach. I don’t know the managers name.

    Regardless of the thumb print, each person I spoke with was amazingly quick to ignore me and let someone else deal with my vigilance. It was really only a few sentences when the manager gave the security guard the glance and he came creeping up behind me. It was not anything about how I behaved, I was certain to remember my manners and to be polite.

    It was only what I said (and it wasn’t much) that quickly warranted me being ignored with a security guard at my side.

    -Tycho”

— BEN POPKEN