Check Fraud Deterrent Program
Lower your bank’s
check fraud by participating in GBA’s Thumbprint Signature Program. The
Thumbprint Signature touch pad is intended to deter
counterfeit and stolen check fraud by obtaining a thumbprint signature
from non-customers when cashing "on-us" and "not-on-us" checks.
signature can be used by law enforcement agencies in the investigation
of fraud claims made by account holders, and financial institution’s
usage of the program is a natural deterrent. No database of
fingerprints will be kept by the banking industry, and the signature
will be shared with law enforcement officials only in cases of suspected
fraud. A major bank in Georgia has reported an average 71% reduction
in check fraud since it began this program.
The touch pad is
intended to deter counterfeit and stolen check fraud by obtaining a
thumbprint signature (fingerprint) from non-customers (customers who do
not have a depository relationship with the institution) when cashing
on-us and not-on-us checks. The thumbprint signature can be used by law
enforcement agencies in the investigation of fraud claims made by
account holders, and financial institution’s usage of the program is a
natural deterrent. No database of fingerprints will be kept by the
banking industry, and the signature will be shared with law enforcement
officials only in cases of suspected fraud.
Signature has become popular with banks of all sizes because it offers
an easy, inexpensive way to prevent fraud without inconveniencing
customers. Many states have proven their programs effective through the
usage of their member banks, credit unions and retail businesses. Other
participants include a wide variety of businesses such as check cashing
establishments, liquor stores, grocery and convenience stores and more.
To order, please
Click here to download the order form and fax it to 404.522.9848.
There is much to
gain by implementing this program in your institution:
resulting from the cashing of non-customer’s stolen, forged,
counterfeited, altered and worthless checks would be reduced and
- The time
spent by branch personnel to document and report such losses would
be reduced and minimized.
- The time
spent by branch personnel to appear in court regarding such losses
would be greatly reduced, and in most cases eliminated.
productive time would be spent by branch personnel in providing
service to the bank’s account holders.
customer assistance would be provided. The thumbprint signature on
the check would not only assist in identifying the fraud suspect,
but could also be used to confirm non-involvement by the account
holder, the true payee of a lost or stolen check and the person who
has had their lost or stolen identification used fraudulently to
cash a check.
The touch pad is a two-inch inkless fingerprinting device that leaves
virtually no residue on the finger. Users simply rub their fingers
together and any remaining ink disappears. The touch pad is not the
same thing as an ink pad and will not leave ink on the user’s finger or
How the Touch
The presenter of the check presses the thumb of their right hand on the
pad and places the impression of the finger on the face of the check
between the memo and signature lines. If the presenter is disabled and
cannot use their right thumb, an impression of the left thumb is placed
on the check and noted “left hand” on the check next to the thumbprint.
Should both thumbs be disabled, an impression of the right index finger
is taken and “right index finger” is noted next to the print.
Care of Touch
Touch pads should be closed when they are not being used to prevent the
pads from drying out. The pads, when cared for properly, will produce
1,500 - 2,000 impressions before having to be replaced.
Law Enforcement Authorities and Bank Regulators
Details of the Thumbprint Signature Program have been shared with the
FBI, several Georgia law enforcement authorities and bank regulatory
agencies, and the program has received widespread support from these and
Identification, Customer Awareness and Collateral Materials
A Thumbprint Signature logo has been developed and general customer
information materials are available for use in making customers and
non-customers aware of an institution’s participation in the program. It is recommended that participants use a Thumbprint Signature decal on
all entrances to banking facilities. Security professionals believe this
early visibility of the program will act as a significant deterrent.
How to Obtain
Thumbprint Signature Pads
Thumbprint pads can be purchased through the GBA. To place your order
please call the
Kenyetta Parks at the GBA, 404.420.2035.
Asked Questions About The Thumbprint Signature Program
fingerprint actually be visible on the check?
fingerprint will be immediately visible on the check so that a bank
employee can tell if there is a good impression. The “inkless” feature
refers to the fact that the touch pad will not leave a residue on your
hand. In addition, the print is clearly visible on a photocopy or
microfilm of the check.
inkless fingerprint pad fit through the pneumatic tubes in the
Yes, the pad is only about two inches in diameter and should easily
travel through the pneumatic tubes in the drive-through.
Can a bank
require a fingerprint on a government check?
Yes, a bank can require a fingerprint when cashing a government check
for a non-customer, provided that the bank has not entered into an
agreement with a regulator or other government entity under which it
agrees to cash government checks for non-customers on the same terms as
it cashes checks for its customers.
Must the bank
obtain a fingerprint on every non-customer?
Each bank participating in the Thumbprint Signature program is advised
to have written policies and procedures governing how the program will
be used. Although a bank has some discretion in establishing its policy,
it is critical that the policy is applied consistently to avoid
allegations of discriminatory treatment. Generally, the simpler the
policy, i.e., requiring fingerprints on all non-customers, the easier it
will be to carry out.
Where are the
thumbprints stored and is a database maintained?
The thumbprint check travels through the normal channels of the bank,
just as any check would. The checks are not segregated and no database
is maintained. The thumbprint checks are used by law enforcement
agencies only in the case of check fraud.
When to Obtain
a Thumbprint Signature
A thumbprint signature should be obtained when:
non-customer presents an on-us or not-on-us check for cashing. )This
includes employees of commercial or business account customers who
present payroll checks drawn on the participating institutions. )
non-customer presents an on-us check for exchange to a cashier’s
non-customer presents a government check for cashing.
To apply with
all applicable federal laws and regulations, a thumbprint signature
should be obtained from every non-customer every time a
check is presented for payment. Distinctions should not be made based
on appearance or suspicious versus non-suspicious circumstances.
Financial institutions in rural markets may want to develop a specific
policy requiring a thumbprint signature only from non-residents of the
community or county, but it is important to apply equal treatment to all
non-customers once a policy is adopted.
Use of the
Program in Drive-Through Facilities
It is recommended that non-customers seeking to cash checks be required
to enter the premises to complete their transaction and affix
their thumbprint signature to the face of the check. Some participants
may elect to adopt policies providing for the use of Thumbprint
Signature pads in drive-through facilities only after normal banking
to Business/Commercial Customers
It is recommended that all participating financial institutions write to
their business/commercial customers at least two weeks prior to
implementing the Thumbprint Signature Program. Letters and/or follow-up
phone calls should encourage these customers to notify their employees
that a thumbprint signature will be required if the employees are not
depository customers of the institution. Notification of the program is
a courtesy to business/commercial customers and will assist in the
process of making the policy known to larger numbers of non-customers
who may seek to cash checks. GBA has prepared a prototype letter for
use in notifying customers.
Steps to Use
in Obtaining a Thumbprint Signature
Tellers and other personnel should use the following procedures to
obtain a presenter’s thumbprint signature:
required identification from the presenter.
- Explain the
following to the presenter:
“In order to
protect the bank’s depositors, we require a thumbprint signature on
the face of the check. The touch pad is not like an ink pad and
will not stain hands or clothes. Our bank has joined with other
Georgia financial institutions in implementing this program to
eliminate check fraud.”
demonstrate use of the pad by obtaining your own fingerprint. Rub
your index finger with your thumb to show how the material quickly
If the presenter
refuses to provide the thumbprint signature, return the check to the
presenter and explain the bank will not cash the check.
- Request the
thumbprint signature by stating the following:
your right thumb on this pad and then press the finger onto the
check – right here (pointing to the area of the check between the
memo and signature lines).”
the presenter’s thumbprint signature between the memo line and the
signature line. If this is not possible, select a clear place on face
of the check away from all writing and printed information.
the presenter ‘drags’ their finger, request the thumbprint signature
again and instruct the presenter to place the signature in a clear spot
on the check.
identification information on the check and return the
identification to the presenter.
transaction utilizing normal operating procedures.
If the presenter leaves the branch abruptly and leaves the
identification or the check, immediately contact a supervisor or your
security personnel. Tellers should document the time and date of the
transaction and the presenter’s description. Tellers and officers
should follow established documentation and reporting procedures
regarding known or suspected fraudulent transactions.
To order, please
Kenyetta Parks at 404.420.2035 or complete the
order form and fax it to 404.522.9848.