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Thumbprint Signature Program Information 


General Information

In 1998, participating South Dakota financial institutions began using a new security device referred to as the Thumbprint Signature touch pad. The touch pad is intended to deter counterfeit and stolen check fraud by obtaining a Thumbprint Signature (thumbprint) 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. Participants will not retain the Thumbprint Signature in their files and the signature will be shared with law enforcement officials only in cases of suspected fraud.


Pilot programs in Arizona and Nevada were found to be helpful in decreasing check fraud. Early reports indicate decreases in check fraud of up to 75 percent since implementation of these pilot programs. In addition, less than 1 percent of presenters refused to provide the requested thumbprint. Neither Arizona nor Nevada experienced public criticism of their programs. Since that time, more than 35 state bankers associations have endorsed the program, or one similar to it, and are actively promoting the Thumbprint Signature Program.

Touch Pad Description

The touch pad is a round, plastic inkless thumb printing device approximately 2" in diameter and 1/2" in depth that leaves no residue on the thumb. Users simply rub their fingers together and any remaining ink disappears. The touch pad is not the same as an ink pad and will not leave ink on a user’s thumb or clothing.

Reaction of Law Enforcement Authorities & Bank Regulators

Details of the Thumbprint Signature Program have been shared with the FBI, many local law enforcement authorities, and the bank regulatory agencies. The program receives widespread support from these and other groups.