The case of the disappearing fingerprints

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There’s nowhere to hide.

Unless, maybe, you don’t have fingerprints.

Years back I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo where one of the characters had to scan her hand to access her office. I was rather proud of my cutting-edge technological knowledge back then. In those days, such a premise was nothing more than science fiction.

It ain’t no more.

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As I work toward my degree in Special Education, I have to go through an extensive background check to student teach. Part of this background check (required by my college, not the school–I already substitute teach with a basic background check), is to be fingerprinted.

image-2I was already feeling a little bit disappointed I was going to do this because I prided myself in living off the grid as far as my fingerprint identity goes. (Not that I could truly live off the grid. Google my name and there I am in all my glory.) I expected to go to the police station and do the ink fingerprint routine. I was worried about it ruining my manicure.

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I needn’t have worried. They no longer do ink fingerprinting for background checks in the United States. Now they use biometric scanning technology. The future is now.

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I was greeted by a very kind, older gentleman who looked a bit like a character from a sci-fi spaceship movie. He gently placed my hand on the scanner and manipulated it to get the right position and scan. We soon learned that I’m one of the difficult ones.

I’m missing fingerprints on my little finger and ring finger.

!!!

fingerprints
Not my hand but this person has no fingerprints.

Turns out, not having fingerprints is actually a genetic condition called Adermatoglyphia.

But that’s not what I have because my other three fingers and my thumb have prints. Apparently, through years of playing the piano and typing, I’ve worn my fingerprints off on those two fingers! I thought it was piano playing but my husband reminded me that on my computer keyboard I wear the letters off where those two fingers on each hand land: q,w,a,s and o,p,l, and ;.

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If my fingerprints are rejected, I’ll have to go in and scan them again to prove that my fingerprints don’t scan. Then, I’ll have to submit paperwork to prove I exist as my name. (I don’t know why they don’t do this in the first place.)

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There are other reasons and occupations that causes our fingerprints to disappear. Aging causes us to lose fingerprints. Apparently it’s difficult for older people to use biometric identification technology because their skin is thinner and the ridges on the fingers not as pronounced.

Guess that means it’s official. I’m old.

old-fingerprints

The elderly have a difficult time passing biometric screenings for visas and passports. India is having a difficult time identifying its residents with the now-required biometric scanning technology.

I was glad to learn I wasn’t alone. However, it’s now a major headache to get approved for much without your fingerprints. I’m sure they’ll eventually just scan our eyes or faces but it may take awhile to develop a database. Although, with facebook tagging, it may be closer than we think. (Each time I post a pic of my granddaughter, facebook thinks it’s her mother.) In regard to scanning our eyes, if someone has had cataracts removed, iris scanning doesn’t work, either.

Iris-Scan

Bricklayers and massage therapists often wear off their fingerprints. It’s not a unique thing. Another problem I had with the scanner is that I have exceptionally small hands. It’s something I inherited from my grandmother and I’m rather proud of it. I should have much larger hands for someone my size. I wear a size 4.5 ring. It makes it difficult to buy costume rings, but it’s worth it.

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So when the guy did my fingerprints and had to roll my fingers for the second part of the scan, they weren’t read very well. I’m still waiting to hear if my fingerprints were rejected. The finger printer said they most likely would be.

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I have to drive 45 minutes to get to where they scan my fingerprints. It’s going to be a hassle to re-do them only to have them rejected again. Finger(prints) crossed the good prints will be enough to identify whether or not I’m a crook. In the meantime, I’m working on getting an original birth certificate sent to the powers-that-be to prove I’m a good egg.

Im-A-Good-Egg-Motivational-Love-Quotes

Here’s a good website to learn more about losing your fingerprints: Can You Lose Your Fingerprints? – Scientific American.

And here’s a video from Fox News:

Have you ever been fingerprinted for a passport or visa? For any other reason? How did it go?

What do you think is the next thing in biometric technology?

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Tweet this: Are your fingerprints missing? How do you know?

15 replies
  1. Mary Bradt
    Mary Bradt says:

    I have only 2 fingerprints! I worked at a clinic when they got a new time clock that used fingerprints to clock in and out. It rarely worked for me even though I registered all 10 fingers. My solution was to take a photo of the clock when I arrived and left. One year later I applied for work at a psychiatric facility and needed a fingerprint check done. I went to the sheriff’s office and after many scans of each finger they could only get prints from 2 fingers consistently. I had a good work history locally, so the employer waived that rather than paying for a DNA test, which law enforcement said would be the next option. I’ve been a transcriptionist for 20 years and I also had chemotherapy 19 years ago, so maybe those are clues. I did have fingerprints as a child, so it’s not congenital – just unusual.

    Reply
    • Karla Akins
      Karla Akins says:

      Selena, I just had my fingerprints done again and apparently they grew back! The guy doing them told me that they could grow back, but also that technology for scanning prints has improved. He was also more experienced at getting prints. I had them all this time. He said my pinky fingers weren’t too great, though.

      Reply
  2. Betty Lautner
    Betty Lautner says:

    I just recently noticed that my fingers have appeared to lost their prints…
    I am a pianist/organist. I assume this is the reason my prints have gone
    away. I also know there are several diseases which result in disappearing
    prints.

    Reply
    • Karla Akins
      Karla Akins says:

      Betty, yes, playing piano and organ can definitely rub our prints away. As can typing or stone mason work. My husband recently worked on pavers around a pool and lost his.

      Reply
  3. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    I have the same issue. I’ve had this issue since they started using the new way of fingerprinting. For every job it takes me a couple of months to start because of having partial prints a few of my fingers and pinkies have none. It’s terrible I feel you. I just wonder if I was born this way since I’m only 25

    Reply
  4. maria
    maria says:

    through years even i lost my fingerprints of all the 10 fingers now its difficult for me to verify my identity
    i guess as my hands have thin skin that is very pinky sensitive and even shows excessive sweat is reason behind it
    i would like to know if i could do something with the prints could be recorded easily in digital meters

    Reply
  5. Nadeem
    Nadeem says:

    Same.here i have prints only two fingers but very low . I cant applly visa off usa and eu and many countrirs.

    Reply

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