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Va. alcohol receipts include license information

Friday - 8/24/2012, 4:10am  ET

Virginia ABC Sterling (Courtesy of Va. ABC)
Virginia ABC stores, like this one in Sterling, Va., do print some of personal information on receipts. (Courtesy of Va. ABC)

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Store receipts occasionally prompt a double take. But in Virginia, people buying alcohol may be stunned to see what's on the printout -- and it's not about price.

Information retrieved from a driver's license scan appears on the receipt from stores operated by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Though it's not a new practice, it can still be confusing and even alarming to shoppers uncomfortable with seeing their information on a piece of paper that can easily be discarded.

"We do print out a receipt, but it does not have the individual's name on it," says Carol Mawyer, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

"It only has the first four digits of the driver's license number, the date of birth and the date of expiration for the driver's license," she says.

The ABC's position is that that information without a name with which to attach it is useless, if it's recovered by someone else.

Conversely, shoppers are not accustomed to seeing their dates of birth and partial driver's license information on a receipt, and it is only heightened by a general awareness of identity theft.

"I want to assure you that we don't capture or store any personal information. No other information, such as their name or their address, is either captured or stored," Mawyer says.

Sales staff are trained to question anyone who appears younger than 30. That process involves a quick scan of the bar code on the driver's license.

"It just basically helps eliminate the human factor so that our sales associates are not having to sit there and do the math," she says.

"Something simple like scanning an I.D. makes it that much easier for our clerks to make sure that they're following the state laws regarding the purchase of alcohol," she says.

A driver's license scan to approve an alcohol purchase is not unique to Virginia. The practice happens at stores in the District and Maryland.

In Montgomery County, for example, stores may scan for an age verification, but the details do not show up on the receipt.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)