In Philadelphia (and I think NYC) new customers had to put in a deposit for several months.
When I got my own phone line in my parents' house, they gave me a choice of being on my parents' bill immediately or giving them a deposit for an account in my name. I wanted to my account and some privacy so I paid a deposit. I got it back after four months. It may have had interest. (As an aside, their check was still in the old Bell System logo and was pretty fancy. I wish I made a photocopy of it.)
As an aside, they used the yellow-black wires for my line. These were once used for Trimline lights by the former owner but we didn't have any Trimlines. I got basic black hard wired. Modular came out a few years later.
I don't blame them for this policy since utilities get badly burned by deadbeats. The "progressives" feel sorry for the poor and force difficult procedures before service is cut off for any utility. The reality is that many people take full advtg of this and cheat the companies.
The Philadelphia Gas Works, being city owned and subject to extensive pressure, had an extremely liberal disconnect policy and as a result a huge deadbeat load. Finally pressure from other quarters--the people who actually paid the bills--forced a change.
From time to time there's a fatal house fire from candles or stoves where the electric is cut off for non payment, and the "cruel" electric company is blamed, not the people who failed to pay the bill.
For whatever reasons, these pressures seem to be more of a city problem. In the suburbs, the attitude is different.
Part of this is to protect the company, part of it is to protect us from identity theft. What irks me is that corporate American's never ending battle to sell us more stuff is responsible for identity theft, such as giving instant credit in stores and issuing credit cards like crazy. Further, most businesses are national chains with processing centralized, so there is no local controls or knowing the person.
I checked the requirements for a 16 y/o to get their first driver's license. They are required to bring in a variety of documents, but one of which must be a photo ID. A school transcript is not enough, this is in addition to that. I guess all schools issue photo IDs now, my public high school sure as heck didn't have the money for that. Our computer generated class schedule card served as our ID card. 'Course we didn't have metal detectors or cameras in public schools then either. Do all schools give kids photo ID these days?
Cops sometimes stop pedestrians for suspicious activities, such as taking pictures. I wonder what would happen if someone didn't have a driver's license or state ID, but had other ID, like an employer's card, library card, etc. I wish I had the resources to test the system, but I don't and lawyers are expensive.