South Bay Auto Dealer Demands Paw Print for Auto Sales

Thanks to Xeni for pointing to a recent blog post by Lorna Herf about trying to buy a car from South Bay BMW only to end up walking out when the dealership demanded a fingerprint and wouldn’t budge:

Imagine you’ve gone through a multiple week process to purchase an automobile.
You know the drill. Research every feature, pick your color, then, it’s negotiations for purchase price and for trade-in. Everything is done and agreed-apon, and excited, you are ready to hand over the check and collect your new car.

But wait!

You are handed a slip of paper and told to mark your right thumbprint in a box. The paper says clearly that it’s a request, for your protection, and to prevent your identity theft.

When you politely decline, the dealership refuses to sell you the car.

Well researched and worth the read. Another disturbing tidbit that’s buried about midway through is that South Bay BMW also refused to return or destroy any of the personal data (including copies of her driver’s license and marriage certificate as well as a credit report run without her knowledge) that they had already collected. Instead they’re keeping it on file for seven years just as they would’ve done with the print. Mind you, this is somebody who didn’t buy a car from them.

6 thoughts on “South Bay Auto Dealer Demands Paw Print for Auto Sales”

  1. Whats the problem? If you can’t trust your personal data with car salesmen, who can you trust?

    (seriously, I expect the car dealership to quickly apologize and change their policy, now that this is about to make national news)

  2. We can only hope for an apology once it makes national news, more typical is either “no comment” or long diatribes on why it is an “acceptable practice in the age of identity theft”. Interesting to watch this one play out.

  3. hey welcome to the new world order! At least in the BMW case the print sits in a file drawer untouched and useless for years.

    What is REALLY scary is what the State of California does..

    How many of you had to give a thumprint to the man when you got your California Drivers license? Your thumprint is scanned and analysized by an algorithim that based on the distances between ridges, assigns a unique identifier number to YOUR indivual print.

    So if your print is ever found anywhere they can analysize the print and decipher the unique identifier which leads directly to your Drivers License..

    At first the system was set up to “insure” that each person had only one drivers license, except that they never compare the print/identifier to the existing database to see if it already exists.. nope the man is closing in tighter and tighter. very soon we will have to show our license (goverment id) to cross state lines…

    papers please indeed

  4. At least this dealership is concerned with protecting customers and the outside world from identity theft. By the way people, when you buy a car from anywhere you give up your social security number, which can be used against you worse than your finger print.

  5. The dealership isn’t protecting anyone but themselves, and they’re not even doing that. There is no way buying a car anonymously with cash can lead to identity theft. As Lorna points out, Dollar _stopped_ taking fingerprints because it was ineffective and annoying to customers.

    The dealership complains it had four cars stolen by buyers paying with a check, but one of the commenters on her blog looked up the dealership’s records and discovered that that is 0.1% of their cars.

    That thumbprint sitting in a file drawer untouched is a best-case scenario for this situation, which is terrifying. They could not ensure that the private data was secure, so an unscrupulous employee could use that thumbprint data to steal her identity.

    Social security number is more useful for identity theft now, but in the (near) future, biometric data is going to replace it as an identifier. This is why you need to protect this data starting right now.

    The thumbprint policy is IMO simply misguided, dangerously so. The policy of not returning her personal data after the sale fell through is appalling and unacceptable. She needs to go fetch that data, and they need to give it up.

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