Thumbs up for plan to tackle retail fraud

Chiswick Shops keen to adopt fingerprinting scheme



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Chiswick retailers are giving their ‘thumbs up’ to a successful scheme being introduced to tackle cheque and credit card fraud in the central shopping area.

About 30 businesses – 100 per cent of retailers approached so far - have embraced Operation Thumbs Up , a scheme which requires shoppers to leave their thumbprint on the back of cheques or credit card receipts.

The initiative has already saved thousands of pounds for retailers in Hounslow, where it has been operating since the beginning of the year. Between February and April alone, figures show a saving of more than £500,000, and a 50 per cent decrease in credit card fraud.

All retailers along Chiswick High Road and Turnham Green Terrace will be approached by local police officers to join the operation which is being funded by Hounslow Council and the police through the Hounslow Community Safety Partnership.

Hounslow Council’s executive member for community safety, Cllr Amrit Mann, said the 100 per cent take-up rate recorded so far was extremely pleasing.

“The strong take-up rate shows that Chiswick retailers are united in their commitment to stamp out retail fraud,” Cllr Mann said.

“The Thumbprint scheme has been an incredible success and proof of what can be achieved when businesses, the Council and police work together. Providing a thumbprint takes very little time, and we are hoping that Chiswick shoppers help us to make it harder for others to commit credit card fraud.”

Using a special inkpad which does not stain hands or clothes, the customer’s thumbprint is placed on the back of the cheque or the receipt copy retained by the store. If the customer refuses to provide the thumbprint, or another form of identification, then telephone checks can apply.

Inspector Ged Boyer of Chiswick Police station said the positive response from retailers was overwhelming and he is ultimately looking for a participation rate of 60%.

He said, “Cheque and credit card fraud is not a victimless crime. Cases of fraud often have a history, and may have created victims of robbery, burglary, car crime or identity theft. Retail fraud is not a huge problem in Chiswick, but we want to drive down what there is. There are premises that may be vulnerable to cheque and credit card fraud.”

If a person is reluctant to give their print telephone checks can be made. If a transaction proves to be void, then police can use the thumbprint on record to help them identify the person who made the purchase.

November 19, 2003