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Fingerprint Reports Expanded

Running a fingerprint check just became much more valuable as a tool for pre-screening in financial institutions.

Bankers in security and personnel have for some time been petitioning the Department of Justice for additional information as a result of fingerprint checks.

In the past, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported all convictions that appeared on the records regarding an individual whose fingerprints were a "hit" with those of record-(that is to say, their fingerprints were an indisputable match with the fingerprints in their file.)

However, if a person had been arrested and charged, but had never been convicted, that information was not available to the inquiring institution.

If the disposition of the incident indicated that the person was an "F-T-A" case (arrested, charged, released on bail and Failed-To-Appear for trial), that information was also not available to the financial institution.

If the individual had multiple arrests, even for embezzling, check passing, etc., but had not yet been convicted, that information was not released.

The reason given for the decision not to release this information was so that no adverse action be taken against an individual who had been arrested, but had not yet had a chance to clarify their record. Congress and the lawmakers were fearful of automatic discrimination, according to a statement in an interview with Security and Risk Management Division Manager Howie Hodges of the American Bankers Association.

In a recent, welcome change, the Department of Justice has yielded to the plea of the bankers and will now release all of this information to financial institutions when the fingerprint check is accomplished.

And there is an additional advantage to the new rule. Previously the FBI could only disseminate information on convictions and arrests within a year, but now they can go back almost ten years and give out information even on arrests without disposition, as well as on convictions.

The American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. set up an arrangement with the FBI in 1982 to provide the fingerprint checking service to financial institutions. There is now an entire department that functions as liaison between the bankers and the FBI.

Howie Hodges said that the cost for the fingerprint checks is $23.00 per card, and takes an average of fifteen days turn-around time. Some cards come back faster than others based on the records that are kept at the Bureau.

If fingerprints are similar to several files, then a detailed comparison has to be done against other files. The optical search or the automatic search may not be sufficient. And, according to Howie, the FBI wants to be sure that each and every swirl, whirl or loop is a definite match. There are no guesses. In these cases, it could take longer than the 15 days.

Bankers Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 10, 9/27/90
Copyright, 1990, Bankers Hotline

First published on 09/01/1990

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