Some GameStop stores in the US city of Philadelphia have begun to require customers to provide fingerprint scans if they wish to trade-in their used games. The new requirement is intended to serve as a anti-theft measure that can help local authorities track criminals who use GameStop stores as pawn shops.
An employee at one GameStop in the city told Kotaku that the new anti-crime measure has been in effect for about a month. GameStop stores in the city received a mandate from GameStop’s corporate headquarters after Philadelphia police requested they implement harsher security measures.
The employee said that GameStop customers at these locations are no longer allowed to trade-in games if they don’t provide a fingerprint scan. The Philadelphia Police Department told CBS Philadelphia that the fingerprints are uploaded onto the online database Leads Online.
Local customers interviewed by CBS Philadelphia weren’t happy about the enhanced security measures, saying that it made them feel like they were being treated like criminals. You can listen to the full story here:
Anti-theft measures like this often rub average customers the wrong way. But the new requirement for GameStop’s retail locations in the city isn’t anything new or groundbreaking in and of itself. Gamers have been commenting about their frustration with these anti-theft policies online since 2009, if not earlier. A Polygon report from 2012 detailed how ten states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia all “require businesses to meticulously detail the used gaming habits of their customers and share that information with police.”
These specific, localised requirements stem from the fact that GameStops are legally classified as pawn shops in certain areas because of the chain’s trade-in program. This means that a given retail location is subject to the same state or city-specific regulations that other pawn shops in the area are held to.
Specific requirements vary on a state-by-state, and city-by-city basis. GameStop employees at locations in Chicago and New York City told me over the phone today that stores in their respective cities require customers trading in games to provide a state ID or driver’s licence.
Update: A GameStop representative told me in an email that the fingerprint scanning is “a process that we’ve recently implemented (starting in early July) in Philadelphia area stores at the request of the Philadelphia police department.” She also said that fingerprint scanning “is a practice we’ve also put into place in other parts of the US, depending on local or statewide second-hand dealer or pawn broker laws.”