Bank of America: Major Credit Cards with No SSN

The Wall Street Journal is causing quite a bit of chatter with their report on Bank of America’s new credit card program. From the Wall Street Journal:

In the latest sign of the U.S. banking industry’s aggressive pursuit of the Hispanic market, Bank of America Corp. has quietly begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers — typically illegal immigrants.

In recent years, banks across the country have begun offering checking accounts and, in some cases, mortgages to the nation’s fast-growing ranks of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic. But these immigrants generally haven’t been able to get major credit cards, making it hard for them to develop a credit history and expand their purchasing power.

According to the LA Times: “The cards are designed to be a first step for immigrants trying to build a credit history, bank spokeswoman Alexandra C. Trower said today.”

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security was less than thrilled, even though the cards are perfectly legal and comply “fully with all banking and antiterrorism laws governing customer identification.”

“At face value the program seems to be problematic,” said Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “It seems to be lending itself to possibilities of perpetrating identity theft or creating more risk for money laundering.” Hey, if it’s legal, it’s legal. People need banking services. —MEGHANN MARCO

Bank of America Casts Wider Net For Hispanics
[Wall Street Journal]
Bank of America to offer credit cards to illegal immigrants [LA Times]