In this digital era, where iris biometrics are flowering prints of digits are still being relied upon by brokerages and banks to catch crooks and to stop them from working at cashiers’ windows. A few days ago, Citigroup Global Markets was fined $1.25 million in part for failing to screen over 500 employees through fingerprinting, a technology first employed in the United States in the first decade of the 20th century.
Three workers with criminal convictions fell through the cracks. While it does happen, finger pointing of financial firms for failure to do mandatory fingerprinting by regulators is rare. Two years ago, FINRA fined J.P. Morgan the same amount for not fingerprinting 2,000 workers.
FINRA and state regulators require fingerprinting for broker-dealers. The SEC doesn’t mandate fingerprinting for investment advisers, but some states do for the smaller advisers who are under their oversight. All job applicants to the FDIC must submit fingerprints.
Over the years fingerprinting has often left a smudge in its wake, but in 1999, one of the bank regulators noted some financial institutions found a reduction in check fraud by inkless fingerprinting of non-customers seeking to cash checks. The famous Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger tried to keep the G-men off his trail by attempting to burn-off his fingerprints with acid. Not good advice for brokerage firm employees though.