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An automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is a system that uses biometric technology to store digital imagery of individual fingerprints for database comparison to produce a match. Fingerprints are considered a foolproof method for identification purposes because each fingerprint is unique. As digital technology progresses, fingerprinting is increasingly being used as a fraud prevention measure. This type of technological safeguard may be stored with personal data, such as passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN). Live scanning, which offers real-time fingerprint identification, complements AFIS technology.
AFIS is gaining popularity as a method used to identify individual user logons.
In 1997, the FBI first began using this technology in South Dakota to identify alleged criminals. Since then, AFIS has expanded usage to other types of identification, such as recording employee whereabouts, signing into personal banking information and even providing systems for ensuring that secure corporation data is accessed by authorized employees only.
Electronic imaging capabilities are also increasing as vendors work to improve AFIS technology. Some believe that eventually, AFIS may replace signatures.