Beijingprosecutors called on banks to review credit card applications more carefully,a move prompted by a recent spike in fraud.
Credit card fraud accounted for most of themore than 1,000 economic crime cases that courts in the national capital dealtwith from 2010 to 2012, and prosecutors expect the number to keep rising.
Failing to pay balances was the most commonoffense, while most of the others involved fraudulent credit card applications,the city procuratorate said.In the past two years, the Chaoyang district hasprosecuted 660 people suspected of credit card fraud, while the Xichengdistrict has prosecuted 264."Credit card fraud boomed in 2012 along withour district's fast economic development," said Lu Junzhao, director offinancial crime for Xicheng's prosecuting authority.He said reports of thecrime last year were nine times what they were in 2011.
Nearlytwo-thirds of defendants were unemployed but were able to apply for cardswithout providing all the required documentation, a key reason for the spike infraud, he said.
Zhu Haiyan, a prosecutor in Dongchengdistrict, said people without fixed incomes were the biggest offenders.Althoughbanks do have strict procedures for credit card applications, many employeeshave eased qualifications for applicants or even failed to verify identities,Zhu said.In one case she handled, two defendants succeeded in getting creditcards using a copy of a colleague's ID card. A bank employee saw one of the applicant'ssignatures was not the ID cardholder's, but approved the application anyway.
WangHai was convicted of getting a credit card using fake income and real-estatecertificates at a bank in Dongcheng and then running up debt of more than90,000 yuan ($14,500).
A bank worker named Zeng in Chaoyang evenused his position to get a card in his mother's name to improve his work volumeand get a bigger bonus, said Ye Ping, a prosecutor in the district."Forsome credit cards with large credit limits, banks pay great attention toapplicants' information," said Li Shuang, an employee responsible for bankcredit in a Beijing-based financial company. "But with the smaller limits,the process becomes careless, resulting in many unqualified applicants beingapproved."
Bankstaff members' bonuses are tied to how much credit card businesses they get,which also leads them to care more about transaction speed and quantity thanabout quality, he said.
"Many banks didn't verify credit cardswith small credit limits, such as 10,000 yuan, because there were so manyapplicants and they thought the smaller one wouldn't bring too much risk,"Li said.Although the credit card application needs residents to supply a greatdeal of personal information and documentation, the banks' negligence andcarelessness during verification still provides opportunities for those lookingto run up debt.
"Inaddition, the supervision by the regulatory commission is far fromenough," he added.Lu agreed, saying the banks should warn credit cardapplicants about the law and keep tabs on their clients' expenses."Afterall, more stringent verification can lower the rate of credit card fraud at thesource," Lu said. "Banks should also remind clients to repay andassess clients' credit in line with their overdraft condition, keeping a lossfrom becoming larger. It's their duty."He said that his prosecutingauthority has already contacted Xicheng's bank regulatory commission to discusshow to develop credit card supervision and establish a platform to shareinformation.
"Itdeserves to be extended across the capital," he added.Cui Shaoyu, a25-year-old credit cardholder, said that she always pays great attention to heraccount, adding she even once called her bank to explain why she had not repaidin time."The interest is high if cardholders don't repay, and I hope toincrease my credit limit. So I don't want the bank to remind me in either callsor messages," she added.However, Zhu said not all cardholders like Cuicontact their banks to explain problems, and added that financial institutionsshould create a "blacklist" of customers who are credit risks."Currently,the credit system in China is lagging and has no professional assessmentinstitutions compared with those in Western countries, which isn't good forregulation of the industry," she said.Banks lack a database they can sharewith information on clients' credit, so many people can apply for credit cardswithout all the required documentation, even after they run up a lot of debt.Allthe prosecutors interviewed said many people have no awareness of credit cardfraud and don't realize that it's a crime.
"Almost80 percent of suspects or convicts didn't know they had an intentionaloverdraft, and a few of them even paid one bank's debts with another bank'scard," Lu said, adding those who do not repay more than three months aftera bank reminds twice will be identified as the intentional overdraft as per thecurrent Chinese Criminal Law.