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.




Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    no and no. Banks are required to cash a fucking napkin if it has the required info on it. They can require a license I think, but thats about it.

  2. meanie says:

    Checks are governed by the Universal Commercial Code – ARTICLE 3 – NEGOTIABLE INSTRUMENTS

    nothing about thumb-prints.

    who is the governing body you would even compain to though?

  3. Kornkob says:

    I can’t seem to find any online resources that go into the specifics of what a bank can, can’t and must require to clear checks.

  4. Hoss says:

    I quess I’ve lived for 42 yrs not knowing you can walk into a bank that you don’t have an account with and have them cash a check for you. I mean, I see old ladies do it at the supermarket…but not a major bank

  5. acambras says:

    Wack-off-ia does the same thing. AND they charge a fee. I was in the bank with a friend who doesn’t have an account but wanted to cash a check drawn on Wachovia. They told him he would be required to provide a fingerprint and pay a fee. When he balked, they cheerfully offered to open an account for him — as if he would want to keep his money there when they’d just acted so stupidly moments before. I have an account there, so he signed the check over to me, I got them to cash it (sans print or fee), and then counted the cash out to him right in front of the tellers. The tellers snippily warned me that if the check was no good, I’d be left holding the bag (even though the check was a corporate check from a prominent, established, and trusted business partner). Yeah, piss off my friend and then insult me.

  6. Stamp “Not honored by financial institution” on the check, return it to the person who gave it to you, upcharge them $30.00 “processing fee” and demand payment in cash or money order as their checks (negotiable-bearer instruments) don’t seem to be honored for cash at the institution they’re drawn on.

    Why should you let yourself get suckered into fighting someone else’s crappy bank? Ding him for a declined check charge and let *THEM* fight with their institution (since, as a customer, they have a lot more weight to throw around).

  7. Phyltre says:

    They’ve been doing this (requiring thumbprints for non-customers) for the last five years–at least–in some locations. Luckily I almost never have to cash other people’s checks.

  8. MeOhMy says:

    “Hey, let’s collect as much personally identifiable information as possible so that way when our data is compromised, the damage is as extensive as possible.”

    What exactly would they do with your thumb print, anyway?

  9. ElizabethD says:

    I would be horrified if someone asked for my thumbprint as a backup ID. WTF? Where has the concept of privacy gone? Is Big Brother here already? Think what mischief some freak could do with an exact print of your unique thumb surface… Like put your print into a criminal database as having served time, etc.

    NO WAY. That is barbaric. I won’t play; unh-uh.

  10. To reiterate what someone else said, I’ve done this before at institutions which simply refused to cash a check for me, drawn on their institution.

    Step 1.) Note in their truth-in-lending statement where “funds deposited to your account, drawn on this bank, are available immediately.”

    Step 2.) Say, “OK, then I’ll open an account, and use this as my initial deposit, since it’s available immediately.”

    Step 3.) Make sure you ask them lots of questions about their services.

    Step 4.) Make sure they send you an ATM card. :-) If your first box of checks is free, make sure you ask them to place an order for them.

    Step 5.) Make a withdrawal in the amount of exactly the amount you just deposited. Point to truth-in-lending paperwork to remind them that “this money is all available to me immediately upon deposit.”

    Step 6.) Once you have cash-in-hand, ask to close the account.

    Step 7.) Enjoy the look of pain and anguish on the CSR whose hour you just wasted.

    Step 8.) Be sure to destroy the ATM card and checks that will surely still arrive as the computer has already flagged them to be ordered, and which the institution has paid for.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was outraged when asked to give my thumbprint when I needed to cash a check made out to me and drawn on Bank O f America which had sufficient funds to cover it. Even with a ton of personal identification it just was not enough. You would not walk down a road if you did not know where it was going nor would you jump off a ledge in the dark! why would I give my thumbprint if I did not know where it is going to wind up! I hope people question this tactic to gain personal information. People have become sheep, they follow each other off a cliff. My thumbpriont is as personal as my tooth brush. The question here is what will they do with this once our government owns the banks? I bet we will all be monitored and eventually have stamps on our foreheads, if we the people continue to follow like sheeps. We can say no on an individual basis and if enough people do it perhaps we will have some clout….perhaps it’s to late which is real scarry

  11. Papa K says:

    Derek, you’re a twisted bastard. I love it.

    I’ve never been required, but then again most times I had those checks was in my small hometown where I knew someone at every bank, so it was never an issue. But FalconFire is correct – if I write a check on toilet paper with my routing/account #s the bank is supposed to honor it.

    Lastly, you may be better off returning the check and asking for one made out to cash…

  12. dibbers75 says:

    The only thing I can think of is this must have been a substantially large amount on the check. I mean I can see in the amount of over $1,000.00, okay maybe even $500…yes, maybe a thumb print, okay….no huge deal here. BUT, and I say, BUT…under that amount…then no, it’s upserd. The way you were treated was upserd. The way the security guard made you feel like a complete criminal…upserd. Ughhhh, this is so frustrating to even hear of this. Like you were gonna rob them or something…sheesh for crying out loud, I bet the people witnessing this incident were quick to draw conclusions as well. Totally and completely humiliating and frustrating.

    I sold my motorcycle and went to deposit the cashier’s check in the amount of $10,000…they required my thumbprint and I agreed, for security reasons…okay, it’s understandable,
    but to cash a check?

    Dude, get another bank or don’t frequent BofA again.

  13. Smoking Pope says:

    Ahhh, and there’s a hybrid idea that’d really piss them off:

    1) Get the issuer of the check to paint it on a door.

    2) Offer to paint your whole hand and stamp it on the door is pressed for a thumbprint.

    3) If step 2 is denied, open an account as Derek outlined above. (Bonus style points if you have the balls to ask if your checkbook can be made of doors as well. Double bonus style points if you ask for carbons.)

  14. I don’t see what is so bad about giving your fingerprint, I mean…it’s your fingerprint…it’s meaningless. Frankly, I’d be more concerned with the idea that I have to share my social security number with them.

    However, since a thumbprint is so meaningless, the fact that they require it, while doing so apparently breaks federal law, is an asshattery all of itself.

    I like Derek’s idea. If they want to be all jerky about it, let them pay for their stupidity.

  15. acambras says:

    Does it break federal law to require a fingerprint? Then B of A, Wachovia, and who-knows-else got some ‘splaining to do. What are they going to require next — a DNA swab?

    I like Derek’s account opening idea, but not the return check idea. Which grandchild is going to be the first to assess Grandma a $30 fee and demand cash or money order?

    Yeah, I agree with Elizabeth D – I don’t like the idea of my fingerprints floating around, although I guess some enterprising soul could lift them off the glass at the place where I had lunch today if they really really wanted to.

    Unless I really needed the cash immediately, I would just take the B of A check to my own bank and try cashing it there (not sure what their policy/fee, if any, might be for accountholders), or deposit it into my account (not at B of A) and wait for it to clear.

    It sounds like Tycho got treated like SHIT at that branch — maybe Fran’s gone into banking.

  16. clarity says:

    I stopped using my BofA account and use a regional chain and a local credit union instead. I pay a lot of individuals and small businesses (like housepainters, etc.) and I know I’d be angry to be asked to be fingerprinted so I don’t want to force it on them. My new bank does call me sometimes to confirm checks that are being cashed.

    It treats people who don’t have accounts in a very suspicious manner – and I think discriminates against poorer consumers who can’t afford BofA’s high fees. If you’re not an account holder your federally issued ID is not as acceptable? With this whole patriot act “real ID” legislation, I find the fingerprinting must be to discourage check cashing by treating customers as if they’re suspected of criminal activity, as well as try to force people into opening accounts through inconvenience. (non customers can’t use the BofA drive through, either.) If there are fewer people in their lobby they need less tellers.

  17. acambras says:

    Yeah, non-customers aren’t welcome at Wachovia drive-thrus either.

    Last time I re-entered the U.S., I noticed that Immigration requires a thumbprint from all non-U.S. citizens. Even if there’s no connection to ICE or the war on terror, I would imagine that banks’ thumbprint requirement would have a chilling effect on non-citizens who are trying to cash a B of A check.

  18. mochagirl says:

    As an assistant da who prosecutes check and bank fraud cases, I can tell you that it is pretty standard for banks to require non account holders to provide a print to cash a check. What do they do with the print? The police use it to identify the person who stole an accountholder’s check and cashed it. I honestly don’t know if the banks are allowed to do it or not – but it has made my job a lot easier over the years.

  19. Jesse McBesse says:

    I’ve never taken issue to giving BOA my thumbprint; here’s why:

    Let’s say someone steals my checkbook, makes a check out to himself under a pseudonym and has identification with said pseudonym on it. People who do this sort of thing (and there are a LOT of cracked out people who do) have a great chance of having a prior criminal record. Given that they used a false identity, that fingerprint will get the dumbass caught.

    Knowing that I’m not a criminal and that I’m not cashing a check under a false pretense gives me no reason to worry. And so I never have.

  20. Angiol says:

    Jesse McBesse: If you’re not a terrorist/criminal, you have nothing to fear.

  21. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’ve delt with this.

    My biggest concern was sticking my thumb in ink that dozens of other people before me stuck their thumb in.


  22. silverlining says:

    To heck with charging the account owner the $30 fee–just charge it directly to fee-happy BoA!

    Having had my checkbook stolen (and the cashed checks made out for “rent” in the memo line, no less), I still don’t like the idea of fingerprinting to cash a check. There’s no reason that working class folks who can’t afford a checking account should have their privacy invaded more than the corporate crooks who raid their employee’s pension plans to settle the company’s debt when they go bankrupt. To heck with that. The moment BoA’s CEO & Board are willing to give me their fingerprints for the privilege of handling my confidential banking information and money is the moment I’ll be happy to submit mine.

    As for places for complaints, a couple of thoughts:
    * State AG office is sometimes a good place to start.
    * Federal Trade Commission? Requiring fingerprints to cash a check from non-customers seems like an invasion of privacy that unduly infringes commerce.

    Hope it helps. Good luck!

  23. exkon says:

    From a BOFA employee:

    Fingerprints are required for NON-ACCOUNT holders to deter fraud and indentify them if they did cash a check later.

  24. Jesse McBesse says:

    Angoil: My point EXACTLY. I’m neither and so offering my print does not bother me.

  25. sonic0boom says:

    Did I miss the reason why Tycho didn’t just cash or deposit the check at his own bank? From what I understand in his story, he tried to cash the check at BoA only because whoever gave him the check has their account there.

  26. Asherah says:

    I’m not sure if its entirely legal, but of course a bank may refuse to cash a check! I (formerly) worked at BofA for six years as a teller and a manager. At that time, as a non-customer (non-account holder) you needed to provide the required govt. identification and provide your index fingerprint on the top of the check. For certain types of business accounts, a non-customer was required to pay a fee of $5. (I’m not sure if this has increased since 2004.) In any case, a bank can refuse any transaction for any number of reasons, least of all the non-customer OR customer gets rude, starts shouting obscenities or gives the impression that he or she may escalate their behavior to a level that may be a danger to the employees or other customers.

    When a non-customer became upset at any of the steps he or she had to take for us to cash the check, I would politely tell them that their options also included taking the item to their own bank or CU and cash it against their account (as that is what they have an acct FOR) attempt to cash the item at a check-cashing facility, or I would refer them to the maker of the item and ask them to give them cash next time. I know it sounds awful, but really…if you’re going to cash a check somewhere because you’re worried the maker doesn’t have the funds in the account, why are you accepting a check from them in the first place?

  27. Falconfire says:

    In any case, a bank can refuse any transaction for any number of reasons, least of all the non-customer OR customer gets rude, starts shouting obscenities or gives the impression that he or she may escalate their behavior to a level that may be a danger to the employees or other customers.

    Federal law spells it out, you CAN NOT refuse a non-customer if the check comes from your bank. While you can certainly refuse a person for rude or violent behavior, all banks are obligated to pay out money that is written from a check from their bank.

  28. Bobg says:

    Not to long ago I would have said that those who are protesting giving a finger print were over reacting. With all of the lost IDs and records being lost over the past year I agree that BofA stepped over the line. Our local Sam’s Club required finger prints on all checks for about two months. The uproar caused them to stop that practice.

  29. Asherah says:

    Falconfire: Yes, banks are obligated to pay out money that is written from a check drawn from their institution, however the method by which that check is negotiated does not need be cash over the counter, from someone coming into the bank. The item can be deposited and the funds transmitted electronically to the payee’s bank account where he or she originally deposited it. In terms of the legality of requiring a fingerprint, I have not found a discussion on the web where it states that fingerprinting in an illegal practice, only this…”The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) warns that “any bank that implements this type of [fingerprinting] plan should exercise care to ensure that it is not applied on a selective basis.”

  30. Asherah says:

    Also, in this case since we are dealing with Bank of America the deposit agreement which each BofA customer agrees to upon account opening reads:

    “You [customer] agree that we [Bofa] may impose additional requirements we deem necessary or desirable on a payee or other holder who presents for cashing an item drawn on your account which is otherwise property payable and if that person fails or refuses to satsify such requirements, our refusal to case the item will not be considered wrongful. You [customer] agree that, subject to applicable law, such requirements may include (but are not necessarily limited to) physical…identification requirements…”

    Really, I’m not defending these practices, but you have to believe that the financial institutions in question have things sewn up tight to allow for their protection if these kinds of things get messy. That’s all.

  31. Angiol: “If you’re not a terrorist/criminal, you have nothing to fear.”

    Back the truck up. We US citizens and residents live in a country FOUNDED ON the fact that law-abiding citizens SHOULD fear invasions of government into our lives. We don’t live in a society where “you should be happy to give over your information to the government, the easier to prosecution criminals.” We don’t live in a totalitarian regime where law-abiding people have to constantly prove they are law-abiding. We live in a society where requests like that should be greeted with a middle-finger salute as our Founding Fathers intended.

    (And yeah, this is BofA asking, but they’re asking, apparently, in case you turn out to be a criminal, which is a governmental purview BofA is taking on itself here.)

    I’m NOT a criminal. That’s why they can’t have my friggin’ thumbprint in their database. But they can have my middle-finger salute on their security camera.

    Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither, quoth Mr. Franklin.

  32. clarity says:

    BofA has only been doing this for a few years – I can’t see that it has cut down on identity theft, even if it is making mochagirl’s job easier. It is actually shocking how short a time it has been going on and now most people think of it as totally routine and necessary. We get the most low tech verification procedure just as our ability to electronically verify a check is the highest?

    The point about non-citizens is a good one. Even people legally visiting the US would understandably be paranoid right now, where having the wrong friends, nationality, or donating to the wrong charity can cause you all sorts of extreme problems.

  33. Skeptic says:

    Hmm…It only seems fair that you should ask the teller to give you **her** fingerprint incase she decides to do something fraudulent. Unlikely? Perhaps, but there is no reason that the suspicion shouldn’t cut both ways.

  34. Gopher bond says:

    Having my fingerprint compromised is not a concern. My concern is when career felon John V. Smith’s thumbprint gets switched with “I’m-no-criminal-so-I-don’t-have-anything-to-fear” John W. Smith’s thumbprint card. Poor John W. How does John W. prove that he didn’t cash that forged check when his thumbprint is associated with it?

    Doesn’t even matter if he can because now he must prove his innocence.

  35. Daytonna says:

    Eyebrows McGee: Word.

  36. Seacub says:

    I just have to ask… what if someone has no fingers/hands/arms?

  37. billhelm says:

    get a checking account at a credit union and cash it there, like the rest of us.

    I’ve never been fingerprinted for a damn thing.

  38. acambras says:

    Seacub, I would file an ADA discrimination suit against B of A, post haste.

    I’d get my favorite attorney, Eyebrows McGee, to represent me. ;-)

  39. VA_White says:

    I just have to ask… what if someone has no fingers/hands/arms?

    “Eh, doan werry, luv! E’s ‘armless,” he said in a bad cockney accent :)

    Maybe they get your nose print? Toe print? Good question.

  40. acambras says:

    A retinal scan. From your glass eye.

  41. ElPresidente408 says:

    Like someone said, people can do a lot more damage with the ID you showed them instead of the fingerprint. I could probably open a credit card with the information you showed to her. I can’t think of any credit card or bank account that needs a fingerprint . If someone has the resources to access government/police fingerprint databases and can somehow add yours into the system for some purpose, you have a much bigger problem and may want to consider calling Jack Bauer.

    If you don’t like their policy then too bad, go to another bank. People try to fraud someone all the time, so it’s not surprising they make a NON member give a fingerprint. They have zero information on you. If I were a crook trying to cash fake checks, BofA would now be on the bottom of my list because a fingerprint is the one piece of evidence that you cannot change.

  42. Magister says:

    I am glad they take the fingerprint. It protects me. Remember, there is a limit set of demographic that will be walking into a bank in which they are not a customer to cash a check. Children that don’t have accounts, Dirtbags that are such pieces of crap they dont’ have accounts and must go to the BoA and cash the check. And then you have those attempting to commit fraud.

    Is it really such a hardship to provide a single finger print? The finger print is only requested when someone is requesting the money directly at that time. If you deposited this in your own bank you would be able to avoid this issue. But since you want the money right there and then, just give up the finger. It will only be used to help investigate fraud.

  43. acambras says:

    Oh, I’ll give them the finger, Magister.

    “It will only be used to help investigate fraud.”
    Didn’t Congress once say that SSNs would only have a VERY restricted list of uses?

  44. Falconfire says:

    “The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) warns that “any bank that implements this type of [fingerprinting] plan should exercise care to ensure that it is not applied on a selective basis.”

    which right there would be breaking that, since a account holder would never have to provide a thumb print in most of their offices. Mine only requires me to swipe a card and key in my pin, even when I took out 1000 dollars in cash.

  45. TedOnion says:

    Yea, I think I’m gonna try to cash a napkin now. That sounds like way too much fun. Or maybe write a napkin at best buy and see how that goes over.

  46. pantsonfire says:

    There are a number of legitimate reasons someone may need to cash a check at the issuing bank. Here is one:

    I used to work for one of the largest real estate appraisal firms in CA. For any number of reasons an appraisal may need to be expedited, for example a one day turnaround. If we cashed the check in our bank it could take a week or more to clear. If the check came back NSF we had to try and collect from the individual customer who ordered the appraisal. However if we cashed the check before we began work we didn’t have to worry about collecting our fees.

    When a couple of banks started requiring fingerprints from non-account holders we stopped accepting checks from those banks. Our firm was the sub-contracted appraisal staff for most of the major lenders in the area, which meant that a number of new mortgages and refis were held up for non-payment. The banks had a lot of explaining to do, and in the end gave our firm a waiver on the fingerprint requirement.

    Incidentally, we always required the customer to cover any fees imposed by the customer’s bank for cashing a check. This practice also led to leniency on the collection of those specious fees.

  47. Antediluvian says:

    Well, what happens if a customer is physically unable to provide any fingerprints at the time of attempted check cashing? Never mind the extremes of paraplegic, but, say, a severe hand injury, maybe a burn, or something that doesn’t involve a cast?

    Would BofA or Wachovia require a doctor’s note? I can’t say that the bank employees I’ve dealt with a larger banks seem capable of handling situations that are outside their normal patterns. If someone tries it (I AM NOT SUGGESTING IT), please report back the results?

    For those who think the data won’t end up in the wrong hands, think again. Most companies just roll over when the government asks for personal data — remember the airlines and all that traveller data they handed over, no questions asked?

    People should protect their privacy as if it were as valuable to them as it is to those who don’t have it any more.

  48. ElizabethD says:

    I’m back, and I’m with EyebrowsMcGee (who also has one of the best screen names ever).

    I remember 20 years ago being outraged when a mall store asked me for my ID *and* Social Security number when I wrote a check for an umbrella. I refused to go along, and left the umbrella there. I despise the use of the SSN as an all-purpose national ID.

    Now look where we are. Big Government (run by conservatives, no less — who used to know better) and recent traumatic events and shameless demogogues have persuaded us that it is not only OK to share our SSN and now, apparently, our fingerprints, they want to make some of us think that those who object are silly, paranoid, and gratuitously uncooperative.

    If BofA did this to me, I’d be on the phone to the local ACLU by the time I reached the parking lot. I do not accept that we should surrender every shred of privacy so that the jobs of bank officers and police investigators are made marginally easier. Expediency is always a seductive argument, but before you know it, you’re giving away the whole store.

  49. sherab says:

    I closed my account at BoA when I found out they were doing this…

    I obviously have nothing to hide since I am not a terrorist but I also don’t send all my mail on postcards either.

    You know that mandatory hold they place on you for out of town checks? Did you know they have the money within a few seconds of hitting the enter key? This isn’t the 70s, they’re ALL connected. It’s all a matter of holding on to your money for just a little bit to make that float money.

    Now for you folks who are concerned about giving a social security number here you go: memorize this. 078-05-1120
    It’s an Eisenhower era specimen SSN that works 99% of the time. (In case you’re curious this comes from a Wired article from issue 10.07). There is NO good reason for your cable tv company to have your SSN.

    And those customer loyalty cards? I take the Fletch approach I keep them under names like “Ted Nugent”, “Igor Stravinsky” and “Alberto Gonzales” (ok Fletch didn’t use THAT one).

    Be creative folks.

  50. Michael says:

    If anyone suggests that I need more ID than my government-issued drivers license, whether they wish a credit card, social security card or fingerprint, I point out that I already supplied supplementary documentation when I applied for my license and therefore the license itself is entirely sufficient for identification purposes. If they would explain to me why something which is authoritative enough to establish my identity to a police officer is not good enough for them, then I would take the matter into consideration and weigh the merits, but so far no one has ever pushed further once I stated my position.

  51. SexCpotatoes says:

    You can’t just open an account and then close it the same day. If you do, then you run afoul of the little section in your contract you signed to open that account, that says “I will keep this account open for at least one year’s time, failure to do so will result in a minimum $200-250 charge (I forget the specific dollar amount, but it is ridiculously high). They do this even on “free” checking accounts.

  52. Smashville says:

    The Thumbprint Signature Program has been enacted in every state and is 100 percent legal.

    The teller was following the same policy that most major banks have – no thumbprint = no check. The thumbprints are only used in the event that a check is stolen to track the thief. Most banks require any non-account holder to use a thumbprint to cash a check. The thumbprints are not put into any database…they are only used in the event that the check is stolen. It is a security measure that ensures that the customers of the bank do not get ripped off. By law, the bank can refuse to cash it if you refuse your thumbprint. In fact, most banks policies say that if a customer refuses a thumbprint, either offer to open an account for them or refer them to another institution.

    You can complain all you want to BoA, but they aren’t changing this policy.

  53. jwissick says:

    Give them the print and rotate your thumb when you press. Smudge it nice so it can’t be used. Whos to say its not a thumbprint? Are they fingerprint experts?

  54. ElizabethD: “EyebrowsMcGee (who also has one of the best screen names ever).”


    Everyone commenting on screwing with the prints: You can also sand your fingerprints off. When I was gigging as a bassist, I routinely had no fingerprints on my left hand because I literally played them off. Coarse sandpaper accomplishes the same thing, although it hurts like a mofo if you don’t have bass player calluses. :D So maybe someone can sand off the fingerprints (I hear snipers do it too, so their fingers are even more sensitive on the trigger) and see what BofA does with that.

    (I used to work for BofA, incidentally. Nice place to work, but I’d never bank there.)

  55. Falconfire says:

    The Thumbprint Signature Program has been enacted in every state and is 100 percent legal.

    Hasn’t been challenged… doesnt make it legal. I can think of hundreds of things enacted in every state that was later ruled illegal.

    The fact that people went along with it proves how stupid Americans are of our own history and the laws of our forfathers.

  56. Guncrazy says:

    Not only does BofA claim the right to demand additional forms of identification, like your thumb print, but they also claim that they don’t have to accept valid, government-issued documents as proof of ID.

    I once tried to cash a large check at the drive-through teller window. I presented the check and my driver’s license for identification. The teller asked for an additional form of ID, so I sent my Concealed Handgun Permit through the tube. Now, a CHP contains my picture, my name, my address, and is issued by the State only after an FBI background check is passed. I’d say it’s a pretty solid form of ID.

    Not so, said the lady in the window, and refused to accept it. We argued about this for a few minutes, until she said, “If you’d like, you can come inside and discuss this with our manager.” Just as I told her I was on my way in, the manager, who had apparently been hiding out of sight, came rushing to the teller’s microphone. She told to me to wait just a moment. A couple minutes later, my driver’s license, my CHP and an envelope full of cash dropped into the bin beside my car.

  57. CaptainRoin says:

    First: Eybrows, nice, here’s another of my favorites “they that can give up essential libery to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”


    The thumbprints are not put into any database…they are only used in the event that the check is stolen.

    Where do you think said thumbprints go between me sticking my thumb and them deciding I’m a criminal.

    I’m with the other commenter that said we should thumbprint the teller, or ask for their ID. Someone I know just got their CC# stolen by a hotel. Where are my security measures to ensure that I don’t get ripped off?

  58. Attorney says:

    A cheque is a special kind of bill of exchange (which is itself a special kind of negotiable instrument). It operates as follows:

    (i) Person X (“the drawer”) writes out a demand to Person Y (“the drawee”) to pay person Z (“the payee”). This is a bill of exchange.

    (ii) The payee can often indorse the bill of exchange to a third party, say Person ZA, meaning that ZA becomes entitled to payment on the bill. This is why they are called ‘negotiable instruments’ in the sense of transferable.

    (iii) A cheque is a special form of bill of exchange, in that it is drawn on (i.e. the order to pay it made to) a bank.

    (iv) When a bill of exchange is presented to a drawee they can either pay it on presentation, “accept” it (thereby agreeing to pay on it although not necessarily immediately) or refuse it (otherwise known as dishonouring the bill).

    (iv) A drawee is almost never obliged to pay on or accept on a bill of exchange, whether it is a cheque or otherwise. The reasons are as follows:
    ——(a) Assuming the drawee is a bank, the drawer may not have the money in his account to match the demand.
    ——(b) A bank which pays out on a cheque to a person who is not its true owner (i.e. not the drawee or an indorsee) may be liable to the true owner in conversion.

    (v) There is a statutory exception, which is where the cheque is a teller’s cheque or a cashier’s cheque (see article § 3-312 of the Universal Commercial Code). Tycho does not appear to have had one of those.

    In conclusion Bank of America were definitely entitled, legally, to act as they did. Whether it was sensible to do so is another matter.

  59. bones says:

    you’ve got to love the “I’m not a criminal, so I have no problem offering my thumbprint” crowd. First your thumbprint goes into a large database along with your name, address, driver’s lisence #, address, phone number, and any credit card number you’ve offered as ID. Then the info goes to law enforcement databases like the FBI, DHS, NSA. Several possibilities exist and have been shown. If you apply for a job requiring a background check, some have been denied because they have an active FBI, NSA, DHS file alone, even though they won’t share the fact it’s just a thumbprint from cashing a check. Second, and we’ve seen the rash of law enforcement planting and manufacturing evidence recently – a digital fingerprint can easily be copied and left anywhere, like at a crime scene, even if you were never there.

  60. snowferret says:

    What good would taking a thumbprint be anyways? They have nothing to varify it against! They might as well just ask for photo ID withing looking at the guy’s face. Also I’d like to know how they use and/or protect that kind of extreemly privet information. Is it made available to the police? Is there a database? How safe is said database? ect. This is ridicules. A person has a RIGHT to some privacy.

  61. planetdaddy says:

    Just calm down and give them you thumbprint. +

  62. jimac2 says:

    Everyone can get a clearer picture of this issue by searching on: Thumbprint Identification Program

    The program does appear to be Nation wide, and for solid and rational reasons. The thumbprint does not enter a data base, and in fact just travels with the check along the clearing process.

    The information on the program and its success is broad and deep, and should aleviate most fears of encroaching government!

  63. Frog says:

    To the people who are saying go ‘head and give up the print: You don’t deserve to be called Americans. BOA doesn’t have the moral fortitude to be called American either.

  64. ProtectMyPrivacy says:

    BIG KUDOS to EyebrowsMcGee, ElizabethD, Falconfire, and CaptainRoin!

    I shouldn’t have to provide my fingerprint for anything if I don’t want to! What is happening to our FREEDOMS? George “Doubleya” (W) and his garbage Patriot Act are making sure we Americans are losing our civil liberties and freedoms slowly but surely.

    Have any of you heard about the Real ID Act that is effective 2008? Or how about the RFID Chip? How far are we away from these types of privacy invaders? Did you know that Disney (in Florida) is asking for your thumbprint upon entry into the park now? Yes, it’s true! They say it’s so no one else can use your pass and it protects you. I guess it does, but where else is that thumbprint going? THAT is my concern!

    It’s not just a conspiracy theory anymore. It’s REAL, folks! It’s happening everyday, and unless we Americans stand up and fight for our rights and our freedoms under the U.S. Constitution, they will continue to disappear right before our very eyes!

    “We are not just passengers on this planet we call Earth; we are the crew. The difference is… responsibility.”

    It is just like Ben Franklin said, “If we give up our freedoms for security, eventually, we will have neither.”

    Ok, I’m done now…

  65. OneStepAhead says:

    Well said “ProtectMyPrivacy”!!! Most people have no clue as to whats going on right in front of them. The Sheeple must wake up and stop following the follower! I ask a lot of people what they really think and feel abour RealID, and the answer is ususlly, “Whats that”?!!!!!!! I see a trend happening in this Country of what Hitler was tryng to do in the 30’s. With the computer chip, GPS, ETC, its all more possible than ever before!

  66. LAGirl says:


    interesting! just found this on

    “The most misused SSN of all time was (078-05-1120). In 1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, New York decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. A sample card, used for display purposes, was inserted in each wallet. Company Vice President and Treasurer Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever idea to use the actual SSN of his secretary, Mrs. Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

    The wallet was sold by Woolworth stores and other department stores all over the country. Even though the card was only half the size of a real card, was printed all in red, and had the word “specimen” written across the face, many purchasers of the wallet adopted the SSN as their own. In the peak year of 1943, 5,755 people were using Hilda’s number. SSA acted to eliminate the problem by voiding the number and publicizing that it was incorrect to use it. (Mrs. Whitcher was given a new number.) However, the number continued to be used for many years. In all, over 40,000 people reported this as their SSN. As late as 1977, 12 people were found to still be using the SSN “issued by Woolworth.”

    Mrs. Whitcher recalled coming back from lunch one day to find her fellow workers teasing her about her new-found fame. They were singing the refrain from a popular song of the day: “Here comes the million-dollar baby from the five and ten cent store.”

    Although the snafu gave her a measure of fame, it was mostly a nuisance. The FBI even showed up at her door to ask her about the widespread use of her number. In later years she observed: “They started using the number. They thought it was their own. I can’t understand how people can be so stupid. I can’t understand that.”

  67. justcyn says:

    I found this forum because I needed to blow of some steam from a thumbprint nightmare I had to go through today. Yes there are a lot of legitimate, not fraudulent, reasons people need to cash a check on the issuing bank right away. My husband and I are self-employed and checks that we get from people, we did legitimate work for, that week, are sometimes the only money we may have for groceries that weekend. We have a bank account on our own bank but your own bank will not cash another bank’s check for you, even if it is made out to you, unless you have enough money in your own account to cover it. In other words if you got a check for $100 it amounts to the same thing as if you just went to your own bank and deposited the “paycheck” you just got, and waited until it cleared. But in the meantime you also withdrew $100 out of your own money for your weekend groceries. It never ceases to amaze me how naïve some of these people are thinking everyone has money in the bank and the luxury to wait on a deposit to clear. Or they never tried to navigate the nightmare of accepting checks as payment from individuals and trying to get immediate cash.
    Recently I just switched banks from a, used to be friendly, small town bank, to a big corporate Wachovia. The account was in my name but we would sometimes deposit checks made out to my husband into the account by signing them over to me. We had been with that bank 17 years and never had a bit of trouble with third party checks. But then they started giving us a hard time and refusing to deposit them. NOT even cashing them. They even refused to DEPOSIT them! Turned out we were defeated anyway. Wachovia took a third party check ONLY to open the new account but we had to open the account jointly because they said they would not, in the future, accept our third party deposits either! We asked why and at least they were honest and told us that there were a lot of lawsuits and fraud and they simply didn’t do it anymore. Our little bank had just given us a run around about “getting stricter” about accepting them without any reason.

    We did need the money this week from a check drawn on a Regions bank. Seems they have been steadily changing their policies once a week. First it’s a fee for cashing the check. Then it’s a fee for cashing a check if it is over a certain amount, then it’s a fee if it is over a different amount. Last night, 5 minutes before they closed, it was a new thumbprint deal and we couldn’t cash the check in the drive thru, we had to go inside the lobby. We had to be somewhere else before they closed at 5 as well so we simply asked for the check back and drove off. I was furious. Wrong thing to do though. My small town ex-bank has had their suspicious eye on us since we had a shouting match with them and they threatened to call the police!
    I did find though that they don’t let you give your thumbprint in the drive-thru, even if you don’t object, because the people who sell the little disappearing ink disks and the “security” program do not recommend it. Apparently it just doesn’t work out well. People use the print of other people in the vehicle, they drop the disks and get them dirty, and they smear the prints and so on and so on. The program vendors though do say it is feasible IF they insist that the person in the drive-thru comes to the window lane and not one of the outer lanes and the teller physically can witness the print being made. But of course a bank doesn’t have to accommodate anybody by enacting that policy for anybody’s convenience anyway. So this Regions didn’t. We went to try and cash the check at Regions again this morning and they wouldn’t cash it at all on a Saturday because the lobby wasn’t open to allow us to be thumb printed. We were at the window lane. When I asked the teller to just send the ink thru the drawer she told us that they actually lock the little inkers up in the vault for the weekend and it was not possible to cash our check at all! Oh come on, give me a break. I almost ran around to the locked lobby doors to see if I could see the little inkers still out on the counter at the teller’s windows! I would have taken bets that the precious little inkers were NOT locked up in the vault!
    I am getting really sick of banks giving me the stupidest lines of BS and lies and crap. Yes, I took business law in college and it was primarily an in depth study of the UCC and negotiable instruments. Write a check on a napkin? Technically legal, but far from any reality that a bank would accept it. I was furious that they have begun to refuse the signed over third party checks. Again technically, completely, legal and negotiable but the reality is that banks can and will do and say anything they darn please. Refuse to cash a check drawn on their bank? Refer to “can and will do and say anything they darn please.” What are you going to do? Sue them? Rant and rave and they WILL throw you out and call the police. And the poe-lice “don’t want no trouble” in a bank. Yes, they have it all sewn up that everything they say and do is perfectly legal. Challenge it and their lawyers can out wait and out spend your defense every time. Resistance is futile. The BORG

    But yeah the Sheeple disgust me and I whole-heartedly agree that we are sacrificing our freedoms for some FALSE sense of added security. Criminals are just getting smarter. They don’t need your thumbprint or your physical credit cards. There is a feast of data available for them right online without ever seeing your face or touching your wallet. I don’t feel any safer for the thumbprint rigmarole. Somebody is just selling these banks a bill of goods. But to tell you the truth I’d like to think the banks are cutting their own throats by alienating people. I am certainly not inclined, now, to open an account at Regions ever. My cynical side says alas, the Sheeple are the only ones they wanted to do business with anyway. Like I told my husband this morning, if they asked to look up your butt most people would simply bend over and let them do it.

  68. Anonymous says:

    The bank fingerprint is part of an arraignment process that would be unlawful if carried out by the police. An arraignment CANNOT be done without first being charged with a crime, i.e., “arraigned with charges”. ONLY AFTER THE ARRAIGNMENT can the police power LAWFULLY remove your purse, property, etc. NO ONE in the USA is authorized to TAKE from you your property, including your car, your photograph or your FINGERPRINTS. “Due process” is standard American law, but now violated more and more. A government may not TAKE your property WITHOUT DUE PROCESS; however, a NON-GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY like a CORPORATION, a bank, a hospital, etc. may at any time ask you to wave your Constitutional rights. Ever heard of “privatization”? The purpose of privatization is to make it possible for the government to obtain “process” concerning your transactions (and any actions, telephone calls, letters, faxes, etc.) without (1) violating your rights and (2) without having to drag through the hassle of observing your 4th and 5th Amendment rights: that is, THEY GET SOMEONE ELSE TO VIOLATE YOUR RIGHTS. If you volunteer to contract away your rights by paying a “fee” or giving them your fingerprints, then you’ve lost those rights (that is, the bank gained authority over you by your acquiescence to their disregard of the UCC law). YOU enabled (i.e., “perfected”) the fraud, and you did so “voluntarily”.
    In the case of the bank, when they take your fingerprints, they have completed a “virtual arraignment” process. UCC Article 3 does not allow any sort of “virtual arraignment”. The whole thing is unlawful, but the bank clerks and managers DON’T CARE, and, like most Americans, few people protest much if such results in the slightest INCONVENIENCE.
    This is all part of life in the fascist/communist CORPORATE STATE that became active first in 1933, then perfected with the Bretton-Woods Agreement.
    The truth actually gets worse than this, since the “governments” are no longer de jure with inherent powers, but are de facto operating in contract; so you see the identical fraud and violation of Constitutional rights is carried out daily right in a courtroom or by the clerk’s office.
    Traffic tickets work the same way: NO DUE PROCESS (no WARRANT and no attached AFFIDAVIT of complaint)
    All is now by private contract. There is practically NO LAW in operation in America any longer.
    The only solution is to stick to your guns when cashing a “draft”. The door idea is great. If they call the police to remove you, tell the police what’s happening, then put this official statement into your lawsuit.
    By acquiescing to this bank fraud, the persons involved are helping to further destroy the nation.