Tips and Tools for the Holidays

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Tips and Tools for the Holidays


Dear Mr. Rebhan:

I was asked to place my fingerprint on the back of a check issued to me by the theatre I am currently employed with. I was told by the bank, that if I did not open an account, I had to place my fingerprint on the check to cash it at that bank. The check was drawn on that bank and the actors had been told to go to this bank and cash their checks. What are the banking rules for Florida concerning this matter of fingerprinting to cash a check? I had the same occurrence in Las Vegas, Nevada. What are the national banking rules concerning these matters?

SAG member

Dear SAG member:

Nationwide, the taking of an inkless fingerprint at the time of cashing a negotiable instrument (check) is on the increase. Some police departments are giving higher priority to check fraud investigations wherein the questionable document has a fingerprint placed on it and witnessed by the bank teller, or perhaps a store retail sales associate.

Is this legal? Yes in all states. Is this of true value to the police detective? Not necessarily.

With the introduction of “Check 21,” a new federal law enacted October 28, 2004, the original check will now be digitally imaged and destroyed within hours of the transaction by the financial institution. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the fingerprint expert to analyze the best evidence.

I get the impression you are concerned about the privacy issue. I also felt that way when this practice started a few years ago. In my opinion though, you should not worry about the practice. The image will not go into a law enforcement database. However, on the upside, if someone steals your check from the mail and attempts to impersonate you, the thief’s print will be examined, and even though it may not be enough to convict, it could possibly point a finger at the culprit.

All the best to you,
Bob Rebhan

Bob’s Holiday Tip:

Think twice before accepting a department store sales associate’s offer of a new credit card, which will automatically save you ten percent on your purchase that day.

The more credit card accounts you have open, the lower your credit score. And, more important, the purchases will probably wind up costing more money than you saved because you will be making minimum payments on the purchases at the store’s higher interest rate.

ROBERT J. REBHAN is a former detective sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department. He has lectured on behalf of the credit card industry for the last 18 years. Mr. Rebhan coordinated a fraud-prevention training program for the American Express Company, specializing in point-of-sale fraud control and merchant fraud awareness.

In his campaign against fraud, Mr. Rebhan has worked closely with the California State Assembly and the Los Angeles City Council. As an advocate for privacy and financial security, he has proposed municipal code and legislative changes regarding consumer and business fraud prevention efforts. He is a member of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators and the Electronic Crimes Task Force led by the United States Secret Service. Mr. Rebhan's is regarded as a leading expert, and his extraordinary knowledge makes him one of the country’s most requested speakers.