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Customer questions why store scans ID for liquor purchases

He was curious if Walgreens stores personal information

June 14, 2011|by Sara Forhetz, KY3 News | sforhetz@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A customer wants to know why some local businesses scan your driver's license when you go to buy beer or wine.  He wanted to know what information the little strip on the back of your license contains, and why some stores scan it into their computer systems.

It happened to Mark West of Springfield at a local Walgreens store, and we found several other businesses do the same thing.

"It was bothersome," said West.

West says his quick trip to a Walgreens recently left him empty handed.

"I was going to buy just a small bottle of wine, Arbor Mist," he said.

But, West says, it wasn't worth the price of his personal information.  He was asked to show everything on his driver's license, not just his date of birth.

"That's more information than I want to give out," he said,

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West says he gladly flashed his ID from inside his wallet, but the cashier wanted him to take it out, so he could scan it.

"The state law just says you have to be able to produce your ID; it doesn't say they have to scan the back of it," West said.

Walgreens would not go on camera for an interview with us, but sent this statement:

"To ensure safe and responsible alcohol sales, we scan identification cards to ensure the customers are 21 years or older and that the ID is legitimate."

A spokesman at the corporate office said in telephone interview that information is not stored on any database. 

For West, he says it's still a little too much for his comfort.  

A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Revenue, which issues driver's licenses, says the barcode contains all the information that is on the front of the license plus a county code.  By state law, the department is supposed to collect the county of residence of the driver, but it was too crowded on the front of the card, so it just stores it in the barcode.

The barcode is a standard format for barcodes, so it can be read by non-Department of Revenue entities such as groceries, drug stores and banks.  The spokesman says he doesn't know why any store or anyone else would want to scan it.

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