UIC John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law


In order to prevent check fraud, many banking institutions are implementing programs of on-site fingerprinting. On-site fingerprinting is a process whereby individuals are subject to fingerprinting before being allowed to cash a check. Currently, two methods are used by the banking industry to obtain these fingerprints. The first method is the old fashioned way which the finger is inked and the ink mark is placed on the back of the check. Today, invisible ink is used. The second means by which these fingerprints are obtained is through biometrics or digital recording. The person attempting to cash a check places his finger on a digital scanner, and the information is saved in a computer. Invisible ink fingerprinting, and digital fingerprinting by those who wish to cash checks protect the banking industry and prevent bank fraud. Bankers assert that this process will prevent the "would be criminal" and work to catch those who have already perpetrated a fraud upon the bank. Opponents to the process of on-site fingerprinting claim that it is an invasion of privacy, that it negatively affects an individual's dignity and solitude, that legislative support of on-site fingerprinting creates discrimination and that on-site fingerprinting leads to the dissemination of personal information by the government. These claims may appear valid on their face. However, with careful analysis of past as well as current laws, the arguments against on-site fingerprinting are unpersuasive. This process of on-site fingerprinting is not an invasion of privacy, an insult to dignity nor does it promote discrimination. Further, it does not mean that banking institutions will disseminate information about its customers, when they have fingerprint information. On-site fingerprinting is an effective means of protecting the banking industry and the public at large. In addition, the privacy issues related to onsite fingerprinting may be rectified by the law.