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Letter To The Editor – June 25, 2009

Dear Editor,

    I am writing to warn our fellow citizens of a danger that lurks in our community.  According to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies the most prevalent white collar crime in the USA today is identity theft. Statics indicate that someone’s identity is stolen every six seconds in the USA.  Everyone should take all steps possible to protect themselves from this crime. The process to correct identity theft is a long and arduous effort, and is very costly.

    On May 19 I made some purchases at the Dollar General Store on North Central Street in Water Valley.  For many years I have paid by personal check at that store. My personal check has my name, address, and telephone number preprinted on the check, along with the month and year my account was opened. For some time I have been required to furnish my driver’s license number, which is not my Social Security number, and the date the license expires.  I think that is excessive information to require, but since my Social Security number is not involved I have complied with that requirement. However, on May 19th I was required to also furnish my date of birth. I hesitated, but complied in order to complete the purchase.

    I contacted the home office of Dollar General Stores by e-mail and exchanged a number of messages with their customer service people. I explained the problem as I saw it and stated they were placing their customers in jeopardy of identity theft by requiring a date of birth in addition to other data to make a purchase by personal check.  I explained the threat of identity theft, and emphasized that with the information they require the customer is in danger since each check goes through a series of checkpoints before it reaches the customer’s bank.   

    The representative informed me they employ an independent company to verify if a check is valid and that company requires the customer’s date of birth.  Also, I was told this was to protect the customer which is hog wash at best and a misrepresentation at its worst.  There is no attempt to protect a customer, and every effort to harass the customer. I find it much easier to use a personal check at that store because they do not accept credit cards.  I do not keep much ready cash on my person, but rely on credit cards for most purchases and then issue one check at month’s end.   

    I maintain Dollar General Stores requirement for a date of birth on a personal check is unnecessary and places the customer at a risk for identity theft.  If a customer issues a bad check, all that is required to trace that person is the name, address, telephone number, all of which are already printed on the check.  Please be warned that Dollar General Store requires unnecessary information to make a purchase by personal check. Their customer service people told me they will not change their policy.

James S. Allen
Water Valley, Miss.

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