It all started...

More than a month ago, when I had filled an HDFC bank credit card application form i got a verification call within 3-4 days from the outsourced agency handling the bank's credit card processing. The caller took a lot of personal information and something about his questions made me suspicious and I asked him his name. He took offence to that and said "You are not supposed to ask questions, only I can ask" followed by "Do you want the card or not? I can reject your application now." (those were his exact words). Alarm bells rang in my head at his outburst but keeping my cool I asked him (yet again) for his name and if he was really a bank employee as he had taken sensitive private infoormation during the phone call and his reaction made me suspect whether he was an actual bank employee. Then he became more rude and threatened to reject the application, so I asked for the call to be escalated to the Bank manager and he and his colleague (he was repeating what I said to his colleague) started laughing. When I insisted he give his name he gave me a false name (as I came to know later), mumbled something about the Manager not being available and disconnected the call.

The harassment begins ...

Two or three days later I get a call from a HDFC bank employee(?) again asking me for my residence address which I gave. When he said he will send a person to collect a photocopy of my salary slip, pan card, photo and other documentation for a credit card, I told him NO, as that was already given with the first application so why did he need them again. Then he changed the track and said it was for a fresh credit card application, which I refused as I had applied once and didnt need 2 credit cards from HDFC bank.

Very often I would get a call from different numbers claiming to be the callcentre of HDFC bank asking if I wanted a credit card? Each time I would decline but I was getting suspicious since the calls were from different numbers and the caller had a standard, -- I am a bank employee and will send person to your house, keep docu's ready -- line. His overeagerness to collect documentation proof told me something was amiss, despite my repeating that one card was enough.

Clueless HDFC Bank...

I was busy and had forgotten all about the application, by which time 3 weeks had passed so I decided to go to the bank to check on things, where I was told that the application was declined (but they didnt know how) and I could re-apply only after 6 months. I explained the incidents with the verification call and wanted to know on what basis the application was declined but the manager said that he could not access that information. I find that totally unacceptable, as that meant that an HDFC bank employee had less powers (cant even get access to data) than an outsourced employee who could reject applications on a whim, be vindictive and rude and harass a customer privately. While I was talking to the Manager, two other customers came up and said how they had been harassed by the credit card division and had to make payments for no fault of theirs. Most people are so thrilled about owning a plastic, want to flaunt their credit card that they dont read or see the fine print, dont ask uncomfortable questions and later end up in trouble, paying interest rates as high as between 35-55%.

Glaring security issues ...

Well strange things were about to happen, as I learnt later when by chance I met another employee and mentioned this harassment. They connected me to their QA person who was very helpful especially when I explained the glaring loopholes in the security. A little later they confirmed what I already knew, that my application was rejected, but strangely the order for verification process which is initiated by the bank was not initiated by the bank.

What the heck ......?

0] So how did my application reach the hands of the verification caller if the bank did not initiate /act on the application?

1] They checked and found that the number the first caller had called me from belongs to some government office. Hmm... so much for security of your sensitive data ...and my suspicions were right all along :-/

2] According to the bank only the bank employee has a right to do verification for credit-cards... then how did I get a call from a person who claimed to be a bank employee but they say Mr.XYZ does not work there. Now this HDFC employee has access to my personal information, had powers to reject it, be vindictive, call me at odd times later asking me to apply for more cards, and all this without an application following due procedure and not being sent for verification.

3] Even if a credit card is issued in future, the person indulging in this fraud can easily gain access to the credit card number and misuse it, simply due to the privileged employee (insider) status he enjoys.

In sum, I for one will not trust credit card division of the bank as

- they have no control over their own/outsourced employees,
- are not proactive about customer complaints and grievances,
- are utterly clueless and careless about existing and potential security loopholes,
- seem to take financial fraud lightly and totally reluctant to take action and/or preventive measures.