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
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
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Translated from Korean by Bonchee Chung