GameStop Now Fingerprinting People Trading in Games in Philadelphia to Help Fight Crime

Retailer now requiring people who trade in games to provide a fingerprint scan as a means to assist local law enforcement.

[UPDATE] GameStop has issued a statement on the matter, saying the initiative was implemented at the request of local authorities and has been in place since the beginning of July.

"It's a process that we've recently implemented (starting in early July) in Philadelphia area stores at the request of the Philadelphia police department," the GameStop representative said. "[It] is a practice we've also put into place in other parts of the U.S., depending on local or statewide second-hand dealer or pawn broker laws. However, at this time we are reviewing the process to determine if it's one which should be continued in Philadelphia."

The original story is below.

Some GameStop stores in Philadelphia are now requiring that people who trade in games provide a fingerprint scan for "certain transactions," CBS Philadelphia reports today based on conversations with the retailer, local government, police, and shoppers.

According to GameStop, it is following a local law that says the retailer is allowed to collect thumbprints. These scans eventually make their way into a database that helps law enforcement nab thieves who seek to use GameStop as a pawn shop of sorts to unload their goods.

Philadelphia city solicitor Shelley Smith says that GameStop is not required to collect the thumbprints to abide by the city's pawnbroker order. "What GameStop does doesn't meet any of the elements of the definition in the code, so the pawnbreaker ordinance doesn't apply to GameStop," she said.

The Philadelphia Police Department, on the other hand, tells CBS Philadelphia that GameStop is being proactive by obtaining customer fingerprints and uploading them to a database known as LeadsOnline.

Still, GameStop shoppers outside of a store in Philadelphia's Center City district are not too pleased about the new policy. "I really don't appreciate it," one person said. "You fingerprinted me like I'm in a police district. No, I'm at a game store." Another shopper said, "I think it's an overreach. It's going too far."

GameStop's fingerprinting initiative is currently only underway in Philadelphia itself, but not the suburbs. We have reached out to GameStop for further clarification about this new policy for Philadelphia and will update this story with anything we hear back.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

859 comments
Winterstar
Winterstar

Apparently people aren't aware of local ordinances for pawn shops...

deadpen
deadpen

They just want to see which games convicted criminals are playing/trading. Soon you will have to give blood, hair, and semen samples to trade in games.

homeland security will start collect the "contributions" as soon as GS makes this a company policy, guess it is a good thing I never trade in.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I live in the Appalachians where copper and metal theft is a huge problem. Main reason is metal recycling places have no problem taking in stolen metals for cheap to sale at higher rates. IN one area pill heads shot utility transformers until the power went out for 1000's of customers and then pulled the lines off the poles and cut them up with chain saws. The police did catch this group because the metal recycling place left the outside cases of the wire with the power company's name on it in there dumpster. Another group was found to have stolen grave ornaments and bronze or copper funeral casket shells/cases?  The only thing that finally slowed the thefts down was to require all metal recycling places to copy a photo ID of those bringing in metals, the information was to be kept for 2yrs and then destroyed.

All businesses are required to work with local law enforcement in ongoing investigation of crime, and it is still against the law to buy, sale, or trade stolen property. You know as well as I do, when a chicken head brings in a game console and games and sales them for 20% on the dollar to gamestop with no idea of what they are even trading in for 'cash' not store credit, that most likely it was stolen from some child or adult gamer who will miss it a ton. A lot of people will buy stolen chit and say "I am not hurting anyone" but they are part of the problem and to ask businesses to temporarily take identity of those possibly trading in high theft goods is not to much to ask. And this is not racist or classicist, it is simply applying a solution where it is needed, no reason to send road salt to Hawaii.  

chronogos
chronogos

They've been doing this here for a long time. They have the same rule applied to them as pawn shops do, since Gamestop is basically a pawn shop specializing in games.

Boddicker
Boddicker

I fail to see a problem with this. 


Pawn shops receive stolen stuff all the time and do you think they get reimbursed when the rightful owner shows up?


Nope.

shannsicles
shannsicles

Wonderful.. do this only in Philly so that all the scum you're trying to "catch" will decide to come to our towns. We don't want them here!!! Either do this everywhere or don't do it at all but don't single out one city because of bad eggs! Surrounding areas will suffer!!! 

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

I think the amazing thing is that people put up with this kind of bull****. 

lextexrex
lextexrex

Same thing they do at my local Guitar Center when selling music equipment.

Klyern
Klyern

This is embarrasing, seeing the title, its the first time i say "wut" out loud in real life. I hope it doesnt become a habit lol


Im glad no one was around.


but seriously wtf

khankalili
khankalili

In other news anyone buying condoms had to be fingerprinted because they might be rapists... oh and sales numbers really dropped at a certain gamestop store who treated every customer as a potential criminal.

Guilty until we prove you innocent, how do you plead.

Valtero
Valtero

Years ago I remember Gamestop doing this in California, too, but they stopped after the police said they didn't have to anymore. Basically Gamestop had to abide by local pawnshop laws. 

And wow, so many of you are totally clueless. Talk about sheltered.

No, they're NOT gonna be hunting down everyone that traded in ONE particular game when it's reported stolen. Rather, they'll be looking for people that do mass trade-ins, which happens a lot at Gamestops located near, say, Walmart. If Walmart reports a theft and gives the authorities a big list of stolen games, and someone traded those same games en masse at a nearby Gamestop, then yeah they're gonna hunt that person down.

Or, if a person reports a break-in and theft of games/consoles and can provide a list of what was stolen, the police can take that list to Gamestop and have them check if someone traded in the exact same games/consoles. They find a match, catch the perp, get all the stolen stuff back.

I'll bet none of you bitching about this would complain if your precious gaming collection was stolen and the police got it back thanks to this fingerprinting policy.

Nepti
Nepti

Amazing how this can happen but if we ask for voter ID laws it's racist and anti-poor. But fingerprint people who trade games... that's just a-ok.

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

America the weirdest. If some other store would require "voluntary" hot iron human branding, half of you follow gladly saying isn't big deal, everything to play COD Ghosts or Battlefield 4. I think this is completely wrong, awkward and nobody who's sane enough, likes to be treated as a criminal. No put your goddamn finger on the scanner, or be tased and beaten up you mother...!

jayjay444
jayjay444

So a guy/girl buys a game from Amazon pre-owned and decides to trade it into gamestop a month or 2 later to go towards a new game, little did they know the game was stolen and sold to Amazon so what happens to people that just traded in the game to Gamestop but had nothing to do with the theft? This is a dumb idea I can see Gamestop losing a good bit of busyness with this "fingerprint rubbish".

koospetoors
koospetoors

You know its time to go to bed when you read the article as "Gamestop now fingering people trading in games" instead of fingerprinting...

xcollector
xcollector

You know what would be funny. A bad guy steals a game from Walmart. They then pawn it at Gamestop. Walmart informs the Police of the theft. Everyone who traded in that game at Gamespot now becomes a suspect to burglary and theft. Little Jimmy who never did anything bad in his life now has police trouble to deal with just because he traded in the same game that was stolen. What a tragic ending.

kirk2n25
kirk2n25

I've got a finger for you Gamestop!

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

In west Philadelphia born and raised, in the Gamestop is where I spent most of my days

Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, and all shootin’ some Moblins outside of Hyrule

When a couple of guys who were up to no good

Started stealin’ games in my neighborhood

I bought ONE bootleg and Gamestop got scared

They said, “If you wanna sell your game your thumbprint’s must be shared!”


...cough

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

U see people looking in bins in philly... but for what? The same rubbish they see floating around everyday?

trust2112
trust2112

It is true, Capitalism will usher in the New Fascism. Whoever thought this is a good idea should be arrested AND fired. You do know this violates the Constitution, right?

Valtero
Valtero

@jenovaschilld FINALLY, someone who understands the very simple concept of theft and law enforcement. Sadly you're one of only a few that get it.

Of course, a majority of posters here are upper middle-class suburban kids living sheltered lives, throwing around whatever buzzwords and phrases they heard on TV.

Valtero
Valtero

@chronogos I think they might actually still do it here in CA if the trade value is high enough, but I haven't traded in ages so I can't say for sure. It probably varies by county. But yes, this isn't new to a lot of us.

theR34p3R
theR34p3R

@Zenwork21 

Don't be so fast with that comment. USA may be a loose cannon on a lot of things, but shit like this could just as easily happen here in the EU (in any of its countries). Politicians here are just as dumb, stupid and ignorant as the ones across the Atlantic.

Valtero
Valtero

@khankalili By your logic, every school teacher is treated as a potential pedophile since all schools require background checks and fingerprints.

We live in this thing called "civilization." It has a lot of rules and procedures. Get used to it.

khankalili
khankalili

@Valtero " Rather, they'll be looking for people that do mass trade-ins,"

and you don't think the mass trade ins would be a good indicator, without the fingerprints? This is in fact a basic invasion of your privacy. You have a right to buy and sell things without having to be treated like this.


I've also never heard of criminals targeting games collections.

Valtero
Valtero

Oh, and here's a related protip: save photos of all your consoles' serial numbers. All Gamestops require serial numbers on console trade-ins, as do a lot of pawnshops. If a console of yours is ever stolen you'll have proof it was yours, and that'll make it much easier for police to track it down. That is, if the perp doesn't keep your stuff for themselves. :/

Omega
Omega

@Nepti Why can't I down vote comments like this?

Buckhannah
Buckhannah

@koospetoors OH MYYYYYYY.


I think a nationwide policy where if you trade in more than 100$ worth of games or any piece of current gen hardware wouldn't be a bad idea.

olddadgamer
olddadgamer

@trust2112 No, it doesn't violate the Constitution.  It doesn't.  This has been explained below.


Gamestop is not the government.  There's no state action.  They can't violate the Constitution.  Ok?  Move on.

Khasym
Khasym

@trust2112 As a consumer, you have every right to take your business, legal or not, elsewhere. This same rule is enforced at any legitimate pawn shop, for precisely the same reason; tracking people attempting to sell stolen merchandise as theirs.

Valtero
Valtero

@khankalili @Valtero Uh no, this is not an "invasion of your privacy." Do you even understand the purpose of fingerprints? It should only bother those convicted of, or planning to, commit crimes. Fingerprint databases are just linked to criminal record databases. Are you a criminal? No? Then don't worry about it.


The fingerprints taken at places like Gamestop and pawnshops are NOT entered into a criminal database. It's kept on record to see if it can be matched to fingerprints ALREADY in a criminal database if your trade trigger a red flag (i.e. matching a recent theft). They're NOT gonna take your one smudged fingerprint from Gamestop and use that to add every game you've ever traded/purchased to some Big Brother database that contains every minute fact about your life. It doesn't exist.


You also seem to be in the dark about how theft works. Games and consoles are a great item to steal, and yes, thieves target them. Places like Gamestop, pawn shops, and a lot of other retail stores getting in on the game trade business, will pay CASH for games and consoles. It's MUCH easier to make cash stealing and selling games than say jewelry, TVs, PCs, etc.. It happens constantly, all around the country, and it's a big problem.


Normal customers DO mass-trade games. Especially at Gamestop where mass trades are highly encouraged through sales and trade-in promotions that grant extra value when trading in many games at once. A lot of people trade in their old system along with all the games when they upgrade to next-gen console, too. So no, mass trades alone are not an indication of misconduct.


But when you just happen to trade in 8 games that just happen to be the same 8 games that went missing from Walmart last week, and your fingerprint confirms you've been in trouble with the law before, you can bet your ass the cops will be paying you a visit.

Valtero
Valtero

@FutonSentinal62 @Nepti Dude, Futon, it's a HUGE problem. Like 3 people vote fraudulently every election year. Those 3 people must be STOPPED and PERSECUTED! They're ruining our 'Murka.

pallidorus
pallidorus

@Nepti The difference is voting is a RIGHT. Trading in games is nowhere in the consitution and if you disagree with the policies than go somewhere else.

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

@olddadgamer @trust2112 Right.  The Philly pilot program for a nationwide rollout of this policy is apparently under way.  They can amass whatever data they can and sell it to whichever highest-bidding company has the pertinent technology for it's use for whatever means... at the very least meaning another avenue for advertisement spam, at worst, who knows?


Oversight by whatever state or local jurisdictions should be outlined -- that starts before a mayor and council, at a public hearing -- and a guarantee that it's purely used for law enforcement would be something I'd insist upon.  Sounds reasonable to me to ask for accountability on the front end.  I don't seem to remember mentioning the NSA once in any of my points.  No tinfoil hats here, so please spare me that knee-jerk.


Do you really think Gamestop is voluntarily going to the expense of implementation for the good of mankind?  


m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @trust2112 If cops started stopping people at random to take their fingerprints "just in case", there would be hell to pay for them. But if the cops ask a company to do that for them, then there's absolutely no problem!

Jito463
Jito463

@khankalili

Do you even understand the purpose of the Constitution?  It's entire presence is to limit the authority and power of government.  Note the key word there, government.  The law is for citizens and businesses, the Constitution is about limiting government.

Sadly, too many have forgotten this in the ever increasing desire for more handouts from our 'ruling class superiors'.

Khasym
Khasym

@BravoOneActual @olddadgamer @trust2112 I don't. I view it as an entirely pragmatic reason: they want people to know they aren't dealing in stolen merchandise. Gamestop is an internationally known retailer. To my knowledge, they are the only ones at that level outside of automobile distributors, that routinely takes in pre-owned items for resale. The prospect of ANY Gamestop dealing in stolen merchandise, would be more than enough to send their stocks tumbling. Moreover, the last thing Gamestop wants to look like, is REACTIVE to illegal goods trying to make their way into the market. Police and investigation agencies around the world, would start looking at Gamestop as the problem, rather than the criminals themselves.

Khasym
Khasym

@m_bd89 @Khasym @trust2112 Actually, this rule is used to protect the shops more than prosecute criminals. Buying and selling stolen merchandise, is considered aiding and abetting the theft itself. And remember, Gamestop utilizies the government mail to ship games across the world. The instant a stolen game crosses state lines by mail, this goes from a local crime, to a federal one(Mail Fraud for selling something you had no right to sell)

And then there's the civil suits that can come. A class action lawsuit can easily be brought against Gamestop by victims of theft, if the government makes strides in catching theives WITHOUT Gamestop's assistance.

m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @m_bd89 @trust2112 Nah, I'm pretty sure it's to prosecute criminals. That's the only thing the police ever mention when talking about pawnshop fingerprints. And if you can't prove that gamestop was willingly helping criminals, and good luck proving that, then you can't touch them. FFS it's probably easier to sell a preowned gun now than it's going to be to sell a game.

Khasym
Khasym

@m_bd89 Intent follows the sale, not the desire. It doesn't matter if GS didn't know something was stolen. As a business owner, it is THEIR duty to ensure any deal made is in line with the law. That's why they have a business license. It is a recognition that the store and it's employees, are expected to conduct their business according to the law, and that failing to do so, carries legal penalties. 

To be clear, there is a difference between a person selling or buying something under a business license, and someone doing the same out of their car or garage. If you engage in a transaction with someone without a business license, you're free to sell whatever you want, stolen or not. But by the same turn, they're free to use that against you. Counterfeit money, physical persuasion once you're on their property, bogus checks or money orders. if you take your case to the police under these circumstances, the only thing they'll say is "Should have taken it to someone with a business license."

m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @m_bd89 There's no way for a store to know whether goods were stolen or not. And oh please give me one precedent of a pawn shop ever getting sued successfully for selling stolen goods.

m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @m_bd89 I said sued successfully. Anyone can file a claim on anyone else. And I think that pawn shops don't have to hold coins for 30 days: "Metro says there is an exception in Nevada law. The only thing which pawn shops are not required to hold for 30 or more days is coins. Gold and Silver Pawn had the legal right to melt or sell the coins."

Khasym
Khasym

@m_bd89 Incidentally: if a Pawnshop loses it's license, it loses MORE than just the ability to buy goods. It loses the ability to charge interest on items it has in pawn at the time of revocation. Since much of a pawn shop's business resides IN those interest amounts, even the TEMPORARY loss of a pawn shop license, can bankrupt a business. 

Khasym
Khasym

@m_bd89 @Khasym Then in that case, pay me to sign up for Westlaw, so I can access resolved civil court cases that have made it into public record. I did several searches for such cases, but I can only access newspaper records. Generally, small time mom-and-pop shop cases, aren't going to make it into the news. However, I do have theses CRIMINAL cases of pawnbrokers being ARRESTED for selling stolen goods if that makes any difference?
http://www.wptv.com/news/region-c-palm-beach-county/west-palm-beach/paula-garcia-jose-mojica-charged-with-buying-and-selling-stolen-goods

http://www.microbilt.com/news/short-term-financing/pawnbrokers-work-to-maintain-good-reputation-after-crime.aspx


m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @m_bd89 Those are pawn shops knowingly selling stolen goods. Did you even read those articles? I'm not trying to defend that.

Khasym
Khasym

@m_bd89 @Khasym So, how much do you want to split this hair? You said that I couldn't prove Gamestop could be harmed by being proven to be selling stolen goods. I just showed the criminal matters that will result from their selling illegally obtained games. 

You said that there's no way a store could know a game was stolen. I skipped that one, because if I'm forced to, I can contact Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, get the product key code of the registered disc I used to link the game to my account, and give that to the police to track down. Or, I can go to the legitimate store I bought the disc from, and ask for the Bar code THEY used to track the sale to my bank account.

m_bd89
m_bd89

@Khasym @m_bd89 "And if you can't prove that gamestop was willingly helping criminals, and good luck proving that, then you can't touch them." That's what I said exactly, WILLINGLY being an important word, you putting words in my mouth is not my fault.
 

Also, last time I checked console games don't have product keys, games with product keys don't often get resold. And the bar code is always on the plastic covering the box and so I don't see how that would help in any way at all. And again I'm saying if someone brought in a used game, gamestop has no real way of being sure that the game was stolen or not, short of the person confessing or making it blatantly obvious. So they aren't liable if they sold the game to someone else. And the person who bought the game is in no way obligated to relinquish his legal possessions.