If you've rented a car from Stansted airport recently, chances are you'll have been asked for more than just a signature at collection. In a bid to cut car rental fraud, Essex Police are asking all rental customers to leave their thumbprint when collecting their car.
The Thumbprint Signature Scheme, which has previously been tested at stores in the Bluewater Shopping centre and Brentwood high street (with customers being requested to leave a thumbprint alongside their credit card signature) has been adopted by all of the major car rental companies at the airport, including Avis and Hertz. Says Stuart Gent, managing director at Avis:
"Fraudulent rental transactions are a concern throughout the country. Fraudsters may attempt to rent a car either using a stolen or cloned credit card or driving licence without the intention of returning the vehicle. Through participation in the Stansted trial, Avis is helping the industry stay ahead of the fraudsters."
Essex Police points out that the thumbprints (taken using a specially-developed inkless gel) are returned to the owner once the car is back at the collection point, and copies are not stored on file unless there has been dishonest activity in the hiring of the vehicle.
All Avis customers, including Preferred members, are required to leave their thumbprint, and repeat customers will be asked for their digit on each occasion. Customers booking on the Avis website are informed of the requirement at the booking stage - interestingly corporate customers are exempt from the scheme.
Avis says that depending on customer reaction to the trial, which has been generally well received so far, it may look to extend the scheme across its rentals stations.
Report by Mark Caswell