Ghost Customers
From JonngAng
November 19, 2003

By Yoon Hee Park

Korean-American commercial banks have been troubled with ‘ghost’ customers who just open an account to provide a document as one of the requirements to obtain a driver’s license.

According to bank officials, following the recent announcement that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) will accept up to 3 banking account statements as proof of identity, increasing numbers of international students are opening accounts that they never use. Banks do not welcome this kind of customers.

This type of inactive account began to increase in number last summer. And now, it is estimated that 5 to 6 people open a banking account every day for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver license.

One bank official said, “International students, who have difficulties in providing enough proofs of identity, usually open a free checking account, and the banks are burdened with the costs of maintenance and issuing a card.”

Another bank official said, “It is very suspicious whenever international students open an account, but we can’t actually decline them.”

An international student, Mr. Kim, said, “It is relatively easy to open a free checking account from a Korean American commercial bank. If I am charged with service fees a few months afterward, I can just cancel it.”

Some banks are now taking a measure to make it harder for international students to open banking accounts.

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Translated from Korean by Bonchee Chung

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