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Xerox does a lot of things these days apart from making copiers: Traffic cameras, airline call centers, parking meters, health care exchanges and digitizing government records.

Add another one: Scanning the fingers of low-income parents who drop off their children to daycare.

Mississippi has awarded a massive contract to Xerox to come up with such a system. The idea is to make sure parents getting government vouchers for daycare are actually using the service and not wasting tax dollars. Louisiana is the only other state that scans parents’ fingers.

Aside from shaming poor people, this is problematic on so many levels. Daycares can’t predict when parents won’t drop off their children, so they have to maintain certain staffing levels. Some parents might be scared by finger scans and not utilize daycare. Providers have to man the machine at all times to make sure it’s being used properly. Xerox is installing the scans free of charge, but daycares are responsible for any damage. If a parent forgets to swipe her finger, the daycare might not get paid.

The cost of Xerox’s $12.9 million contract for finger scans is now coming under fire.

In a state that has more than 8,000 children on a waiting list for daycare, you’d think this money could have been used more wisely.

Links of the Day:

– This whole “open enrollment” idea for poor city students is a wonderful idea, if only suburban districts would welcome them with open arms.

– Senator Chuck Schumer defends federal spending at the Genesee County yogurt manufacturing complex. I previously wrote about this “Yogurt Welfare.”

– University of Albany students are accused of forcing fraternity pledges to lie face down in water, beating them with rubber hoses and making them beg for mercy.

– The supermarket wars in Massachusetts heat up, with Wegmans in the fray.

– Real New York Times headline: Finally, a Place in Brazil Where Dogs Can Go for Discreet Sex.

Links of the Day:

– Customers are storming Instant Tax Service offices around the country and in Rochester. There are several issues provoking the outrage:

1. Instant Tax issued checks with bad routing numbers, It has acknowledged the problem and has issued new checks to those affected.

2. There are delays in getting people refund checks. Some customers who called the IRS discovered their refunds had been processed and deposited in mysterious accounts they did not authorize. Customers who are being told by Instant Tax they can’t have a check yet got seriously upset and suspicious.

When you do your taxes through Instant Tax, the IRS doesn’t send a check to you. It goes to a third-party bank account. Instant Tax acknowledged delays in issuing checks, caused by the same internal problems that created the bad checks. The IRS also delayed returns for some early filers.

3. People go to services like Instant Tax because of the prospect of getting an upfront loan on their refund check. They don’t always realize the service charges $600. After Instant Tax processes their returns, they find out the amount of the loan they can get. One man told me he got a $100 loan, meaning he paid $600 for a $100 loan. An accountant told me a woman came to him hoping he would redo her taxes, but Instant Tax had already filed her return. This woman’s loan? Five dollars.

A tax professional explained many customers don’t have checking accounts, so the IRS can’t direct deposit the refund. They’re uncomfortable having the IRS mail a check to their homes. They’re often claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, which can refund substantial amounts of money. The business model of services like Instant Tax relies on these customers.

It was sad talking to people who were confused, upset and desperate for money to pay their bills. I hope to do a follow-up story tomorrow giving information on how to avoid tax service problems.

– Check-cashing businesses would be allowed to charge more than 25 percent interest under a bill being considered in the New York State legislature.

– Pregnant? You could be fired in New York State.

Other news:

– A state assemblyman wants to pass a law that allows you to delete your Facebook and Twitter pages after you die. This law actually exists in a couple other states.

– A former Women’s Professional Soccer MagicJack player describes a horrific experience on her blog, including the team owner who wouldn’t let her get surgery on her collapsed left nostril.

– Do you miss “The Wire?” The Washington Post looks back at our favorite characters. (Mine is Bodie Broadus. He’s a minor character, but reminds me of so many friends of my youth.)

– President Obama says he’s fought for equal pay for women, but that’s proven very difficult to achieve.