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Call Kurtis Investigates: What Are Stores Collecting When They Swipe Your ID?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13'...
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(Roseville) When the Michael’s store clerk required Kim Bushing’s driver’s license to return some craft supplies, she pushed back.

“I told her I wasn’t comfortable with it,” she recalled.

Bushing paid cash the day before and had her receipt. She says they told her without swiping her license, they wouldn’t process her return. She reluctantly handed over her identification, but says the Michael’s manager could not explain why they wanted it or the personal info they were collecting.

“I don’t know how many people now have access to my information.”

CBS13 told you last month how more stores are tracking returns hoping to weed out fraud which the industry claims is a $17 billion problem annually. In some cases, returnaholics are being banned from bringing stuff back. Bushing wanted to know exactly what they collect, when they swipe your driver’s license.

We got answers learning from the Department of Motor Vehicles everything on the front of your driver’s license is accessible through the magnetic strip or bar code including your name, address, birth date, hair and color and even your height and weight. Legally stores can collect the information and keep it for as long as they want if it’s for “fraud prevention”.

“To say you’re using that information or taking that information to prevent fraud, you can use that argument for just about anything,” said Democratic Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo.

Senator Hill has investigated the issue and says he hasn’t found evidence of any abuses within the retail industry. He’d have to see an abuse to know how to come up with a law to stop it. In the meantime, he thinks stores should have to warn you at the register that you may have to hand over your identification card if you bring something back.

“If you don’t want to purchase from that retailer, then you can go someplace else to do it,” he said.

Bushing says she’ll think twice before going to Michael’s. The store issued CBS13 this statement.

“Michaels’ return policy is in compliance with California law and is posted both in our stores and on our website at http://www.michaels.com. The policy states that a valid photo ID is required to complete a return and that information will be recorded. The information is recorded to prevent fraud and is not retained for marketing purposes.”

A company called The Retail Equation which tracks returns for 20-thousand companies also says it doesn’t share the info it collects for fraud prevention purposes.

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