Credit card agents help us in applying for Credit Cards and smoother processing of our application. A lot of people prefer applying for Credit Cards via agents since they go through the submitted information beforehand and minimize the chances of credit card rejections.
However, in the last few years, especially after the pandemic, there has been an increase in the trend of processing Credit Card applications where the customer and agent never meet each other and all the required information is communicated via online messengers like Whatsapp.
Here, the agent asks to submit personal information, work information, and KYC documents like Aadhaar and Pan Card over Whatsapp, which is then remotely used by the agent to apply for the Credit Card.
Recently, a lot of FinTalks members have been asking me whether this is a safe process and whether their KYC documents will be misused. This post is just to address the same.
Ideally, Credit Card applications via Agents should be done physically, and face-to-face. For example, you probably have seen SBI Cards agents in Shopping Malls and Railway Stations. Or, they can visit your home to process your application.
Here, your KYC Documents are photographed directly into the Credit Card Application Software (carried by the Agents on their smartphones/Tablet).
However, nowadays, Agents are asking to send over the documents via Whatsapp. Is this safe?
This process is 100% contactless and allows the agent to take applications PAN India from any serviceable location. They don’t need to physically meet the customer.
In physical KYC, your documents are directly uploaded into the Credit Card Application Software, however, in the online process, your documents are saved with the Agents’ Mobile Phone.
The safekeeping of your data lies in the hand of the agents only.
Well, there are a few things to know:
The Agent is probably doing this to get more applications done and get more incentives. So, safekeeping of customer data is kind of his responsibility too. If customer data gets misused, eventually he will get caught and that will be bad for his career, which he is doing in the first place.
The Agent can probably apply for another Credit Card without informing you. However, here also, you, as a customer, have the complete right to cancel your card (especially after the RBI New Credit Card Guidelines, this process is going to be very smooth). At the same time, you can report the same to the bank that your data is misused.
In the worst-case scenario, someone else (3rd Party) gets your Personal Data. This sounds like a disaster, however, using your KYC documents for applying new financial products (such as loan/credit cards) requires authentication (in the form of SMS). Without that, RBI Approved banks, and NBFCs cannot use any KYC document.
Non-financial products, that use Aadhaar based authentication, such as obtaining sim cards, cannot be done also without physical KYC. So, in most cases, you need not worry.
Some risk still remain, as long as a copy of your KYC documents exist with an unknown party. Since it is digital, copies can be stored anywhere, sent to anyone, which you would never know. You should be aware of the risks.
But as long as the agent is honest, and responsible enough to delete all the customer information after the credit card application is processed, then you are good to go.
Many times, bank employees also source credit card applications. But they generally use their office email (ending with the official id of the bank) to communicate and ask for documents. This is safe, no need to worry.
So, coming to the question, is it safe?
From the safety perspective, NO it is not safe. The Agents are also encouraged to do physical KYC so that they don’t save customer information in their capabilities. And certainly, sending over KYC information to unknown people over Whatsapp cannot be called safe.
However, considering the dynamics, I would recommend you do a background check of the credit card agents before blindly sending over your documents. If you feel the agent has a good reputation, then you may proceed with a calculative risk.
A lot of us from FinTalks (including me) have used Credit Card agents for applying for various Credit Cards. However, if you really have safety concerns, consider applying for Credit Cards using official channels.
Btw, all credit card application links included in this FinTalks website are via the official channel of the bank or its affiliate networks. Your personal information is not handed over to any third parties.