A few years ago I bought a $90 item at a Staples in Ulster, NY. I asked if I could write a check, and the cashier said yes, with a photo id. I handed her my driver's license and a check.
My checking accounts were at a credit union. I had several thousand in the account I wrote the check on. I had free transfer coverage on that account - if I ever wrote a check for more than was in the account, they would transfer the required amount from my savings account. If there wasn't enough in the savings, then they would go to the other accounts in my name. If that failed, I had a backup signature loan instantly available for up to five thousand. So it was impossible for me to write a check for less than $5,000 and have it bounce. Impossible.
The Staples cashier took my check, fed it into her cash register, and it was rejected. "We can't take a check from you."
I asked why not, and, in front of other people in line, she said, loudly, rather nastily, and I quote,
I freaked. I informed her I had never bounced a check! I asked for a manager, and informed the folks behind me that they may as well go to another register, "...because this might take a while."
The manager explained that they have a check verification system, and I'm not in their system, so they can't take the check. I asked him to please educate the cashier. I did not appreciate being embarrassed like that.
He gave me some forms to fill out and mail to some service so I could get into their system. I paid cash for my item and left.
At home that evening I looked at the forms. The several pages of forms.
I have check cards for lots of places, and none of them ever required much more than my driver's license number, address, and phone number. This form looked more like a mortgage application. In addition to the the usual, it wanted my social security number, birth date, information on ALL my bank accounts (whether I intended to write checks on them or not) including location, account number and balance, all my investment accounts, balance and number, employment information, appraised value of my house, age and make of my vehicles and the VINs, whether I or my spouse had ever declared bankruptcy, and on and on.
Um, ok, all that would be handy if I really ripped you off and you want to sue me to recover your money, but hey, that's a pain to pull together and there's no way I'm going to give you all of that anyway.
BUT, this is the part that really worried me: They also wanted to know what pets I had, by type of beasty and name, my mother's maiden name, where I was born, my children's names and ages, my education level, graduation dates, and what schools I went to. They wanted my freakin' passport number!
Needless to say, I tore it up and never got myself into Staples' system. I also never again bought anything beyond paper clips from that store. The Office Max was just down the road.
I don't know what the heck that was about. I hesitated to use the name "Staples" because I don't know if this was unique to this particular store, I don't know if they're still using that system, I don't know if this was a "special" form reserved for discouraging people they don't want as customers anyway, I don't know if maybe the forms were going to go directly to the manager's cousin who had a side business selling identities.
All I know is that the form was handed to me in a Staples store in Ulster, NY.
And it was scary.