Many small supermarkets are investing in personal identification systems to crack down on check-cashing fraud.

Although large supermarket chains and major discount retailers have been slow to introduce the system, smaller food markets are rushing to install biometrics systems that recognize unique physical characteristics in a person's fingerprints, for example.

Check cashing brings in a large amount of revenue for mom-and-pop establishments in low-income areas, and they feel the losses from check fraud much more keenly, without a larger corporation to soak the damage. As much as 70 percent of these shops' food sales come from customers who don't have bank accounts and rely on local markets to cash their checks.

Cardenas Supermarkets, a nine-store chain based in Ontario, Calif., says within two weeks of installing a fingerprint-scanning system more than 5,000 customers signed up. The company hopes the system will help stem the chain's losses from check fraud, which had soared as high as $500,000 in recent years.

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