A Fingerprint to Rent a Car? An Ex-Customer Says "No" (Amato)

Theresa Amato sent the following letter to the Travel section of a prominent newspaper.

Submitted to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Note: On January 8, 2002, Dollar Rent A Car announced that it is no longer requiring fingerprints from its customers. This new policy affects all of their outlets nationwide. They found that requiring fingerprints did not cut down significantly on fraud.

To the Editor - Travel Section:

At Dollar Rent A Car ("Dollar Makes Sense.®") in Midway Airport, Chicago, I tried to rent a car but was refused only because I would not give the corporation my thumbprint. According to the "Frequently Asked Questions About Thumb Printing Procedures" sheet the representative pulled out when I started to ask why I had to provide a print of my anatomy to rent a car, I was told this procedure was to identify those who engage in fraudulent rentals and theft.

I thought about this for a minute and then asked whether the print would be destroyed when I returned the car in proper condition the next day; the Dollar representative said "no." The FAQ sheet explains that the company keeps your print for seven years at corporate headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Nothing on its literature indicates that the corporate headquarters will not sell, trade, or market the thumbprint and there are no regulations to prevent the corporation from doing this or using it in other ways to further violate your identity.

This is an outrageous example of unilateral corporate erosion of our civil liberties.

What's next? DNA? A blood sample? If this is a trend, as Dollar claimed other rental companies would be instituting the same procedure, it must be stopped. I refused to rent the car and went to another place with comparable rates. I am sure there are many others who do not want to give an unregulated corporation their "Thumbs Up!" -- the Orwellian label Dollar has given its new campaign to violate your self.

Theresa Amato