Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Checks and answers: Part two

If someone wants to cash a check, they must have a social security number and a driver's license.

ARE WE TALKING ABOUT PERSONAL CHECKS OR PAYROLL CHECKS?
We are talking about payroll checks. Wal-Mart DOES NOT CASH PERSONAL CHECKS. You cannot walk up to my register, say "I'd like to cash this check, write a personal check for $900 and let me cash it. Will never happen in a million years. Personal checks may be written to cover the amount of your merchandise purchase, plus a maximum of $20 cash back. This process does not require a social security number, but does require a valid drivers license.

WHY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS?
The question on everyone's keyboard seems to be WHY WHY WHY? Well, the answer lies with a holding company called Fidelity National Financial, which in turn owns Fidelity National Information Services, which in turn operates Certegy Check Services, of which one service is the payroll check cashing division.

Certegy is the name of the company on those little pieces of paper that the register burps up after a failed check transaction. Certegy uses ONLY social security numbers and drivers licenses IN CONCERT to verify payroll check transactions.

The closest thing to a national identity database in the post-9/11 world is the network of state drivers licenses and ID cards. All of which REQUIRE a social security number to legally obtain. Black market, that's another issue...

You may only legally be paid for work in this country if you have a social - thus, Wal-Mart (or any other company) may only LEGALLY cash your check if you have a social security number.

So that's why we have to have a social. The company Wal-Mart uses to verify the check says you have to have a social. For the record, I never see the social. It is not printed on the back of the check. It is only entered on the keypad by the person who is attempting to cash the check.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY PASSPORT? RESIDENT ALIEN CARD?
There's nothing wrong with it. I don't like the picture in mine. You probably don't like the picture in yours. It has nothing to do with identification. LET ME REPEAT THAT REAL LOUD. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IDENTIFICATION. Passports are the uber-identification. Certegy don't care though. The Department of State does not sell passport information to data-mining companies. That's probably why Certegy doesn't use passport data.

SO IT HAS TO BE A DRIVER LICENSE?
Yes. Either that, or a state-issued identification card, which looks like a driver license but says "NOT VALID FOR MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATION" or somesuch on it. If you have a valid social security number, you can get one. They are very useful, mostly for cashing and writing checks.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER PROBLEMS?
Hyphenated names. Double last names, like Martinez Lopez or Smith Barney. Because we don't have a <SPACE> on our keyboard, the system won't let us input these, so they have to call the 1-800 number and have an operator put them in manually. People tend to get real hot when this happens. It's a crap system. I'm sure Wal-Mart lowballed them on the bid. But don't blow up at me. You don't have a bank account. You did NOT get that payroll check on Sunday. Deal.

I FOLDED MY CHECK UP. I GOT MY CHECK WET. MY DOG ATE MY CHECK. YOU GONNA CASH IT, RIGHT?
Yo mama didn't beat you enough did she? You see those little numbers on the bottom? That is the information that tells my piece of junk check reader where your company's money is stored. You really, really want my junky check reader to be able to read those numbers. When you fold your check, it damages those numbers. Ditto for cramming it in your pocket like a wad of tissue paper. And that dumb boy that brought the check in that he not only spilled Sprite on but then tore apart while trying to take if off the stub -- dude, you're an industrial accident waiting to happen.

IF ALL MY STUFF IS GOOD, WHY WON'T MY CHECK CASH?
Well, the most common event is that at some point in the past, your company didn't have enough money in its account to cover its payroll. Wal-Mart at that point cuts them off like a gangrenous leg. SLICE. CAUTERIZE. Or, in isolated cases, your own firm got your data wrong and when Certegy tries to confirm that John Jones with social 124-43-1236 works for ABC Delivery, it comes up with a social one number off. And sometimes, if you name has changed, as in cases of divorce or remarriage, the system has not registered that, especially if the license and the name that goes with the social are not in perfect agreement.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great explanation. Keep up the great work!

Ol' Lady said...

even with all this information you have given, which I'm sure most won't understand, especially if they are trying to cash a cheque at Wal Mart and not their bank, you will still have people bitchin about not being able to cash their cheque or about having to use their SSN. good luck :}

Ol' Lady said...

so sad that you have had to go to moderation with your comment section :{

Jackie said...

This was great! I've only been at WalMart 2 months last Christmas and 5 months since the layoff. I am learning how to work the service desk. I wish you would do a step by step on the moneygram system similar to the check cashing policy. Or could you send it to me at nosophobic@yahoo.com
I read your blog often. I think it is great!
I am catching on to everything else but I haven't had a chance to do many moneyGrams. There may be a CBL on the subject. I haven't had a chance to find out. Too, I noticed that on both the self check out and the moneyGram computers there is a tutorial. When I work I never seem to have a chance to check them out.

Jackie said...

I am getting a second "leave your comment" so in hopes that the first message did go through I'll make this short.
I would like to know about MoneyGram.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

OK Thanks for the clarification on Payroll checks. But we know have the fancy little machines that run your checks "instantly" for just routine purchases. Now why do they have to "write" personal information on the checks when it is verified while you are standing there. There are some things I refuse to give out especially to Walmart employees around here. I know there have been instances when certain employees used my family members credit card number for their on "personal" use.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I think I'll use direct deposit, thank you very much. It'll be a hot day in heaven before i give Walmart, Pubix, or any other soulless corporation my SS#!

Anonymous said...

If you are in a Supercenter, the bottom right key acts as a space key and the "/" is a delete!

Nifty!

L. said...

Your comment that a social security number is required in order to obtain a drivers license is incorrect. If you do not have a social security number, and state that you do not on the grounds of "religious convictions" they cannot deny you a drivers license. Or a passport. Or any other state issued id, for that matter. I have obtained all of the above in the state of FL without providing a social security number.

Just thought you'd like to know that.

Anonymous said...

I work at FIS (not the Certigy division, which was officially purchased in Febrauary, but one of the software divisions - and we make a lot of software for banking). These rules are *not* arbitarily decided by Certigy, but are a part of the Patriot Act, which require that financial institutions "know their customers". Of course, this "knowing your customer" business is really about tracking down possible terrorist at loose in the the country.

What it boils down to, though, is that financial institutions have to keep records of *everyone* they've done business with, even if that business is cashing a check (or a money order). This information is generally put through an OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) scan to see if it is a match for a known terrorist organization (the sad thing is that these scans are iffy at best - they only match the first 3 characters of the name, so there are a lot of false positives, which the FI then has to verify).

The good thing is that BBCAmerican's posted process makes it clear that the person cashing the check never really sees the TIN (Tax ID Number, the "real" name for an SSN). The person cashing the check enters it.

Burton Adam said...

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Unknown said...

I have a payroll check for 2450 I have tried cashing it at a check cashing place Walmart and Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer looked at me like I was a criminal and told me that my check was washed Walmart was so freaking rude that they made my wife cry and I had to leave. And the check cashing store could not verify. Now here's where things get a little tricky I recently put an advert out because my wife is pregnant and I need to get her prescriptions so somebody gets a hold of me and tells me they can pay me $400 in advance for cleaning Apartments he tells me that next week there will be a check coming in my name a key to the apartment and the address well that check came and there was no key and no address so I try to get ahold of him but he hasn't been answering my texts so I called and his voicemail says he's a text me phone and the check is a payroll check pay to the order of me but the company that's named I've never even heard of. I don't know if this was a misunderstanding or if this was on purpose. But should I go down to where the bank that the check is drawn on see I thought you didn't have to do that with a payroll check. Can someone stop the check

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