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Japan: Why the Police Wants to Restrict the Use of Bank Cards for the Over-65s

Categories : Cash generates security, Cash is available to all users, Cash is easy to use
August 25, 2023
Tags : card fraud, elderly, Japan, payments security
In Japan, seniors are the main targets of card scams worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The police is proposing to limit the use of bank cards for people aged 65 and over.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

Japan seems to have put forward a radical way of preventing bank fraud and protecting its senior citizens. In the land of the rising sun, scammers often call their victims by phone to encourage them to visit an automated teller machine (ATM) to make money transfers.

One of the most common scams is for criminals posing as bank representatives and warning targets that their accounts are overdrawn and that they must complete a transfer to avoid bank charges. Another scam, infamously known as the ore, ore, or “hey, hey” in Japanese, is where a caller pretends to be a relative or friend of the target, asking for help.

This is a matter of concern for the Japanese authorities since, according to the police, the value of these scams runs into millions of euros. In the first six months of 2023 alone, no less than 15 billion yen (96 million euros) were embezzled by criminals in this way.

Almost 9 out of 10 victims are over 65

The primary victims are citizens aged over 65, who are increasingly falling prey to these scams. In 2022, they accounted for almost 87% of all victims, according to TV Asahi, compared with “barely” 72% before the health crisis. Hence, the idea was put forward by the official National Police Agency (NPA). To try and reverse the trend, it proposes, reports Japan Today, to limit the use of bank cards to people aged 65 and over.

The measure would not affect all senior citizens but only those who have not used their card at an ATM for at least a year. In this case, they could not make any transactions unless they went to a branch to justify them.

A measure that does not meet with unanimous approval

The initiative, designed to curb fraud, is far from unanimous in an aging country where, according to the latest official figures, people aged 65 and over account for almost a third of the population. Some Japanese, interviewed by the local media, fear, for example, that it will simply prevent them from accessing their bank accounts. Others reject the idea, arguing that the measure would be discriminatory because Japanese people under 65 are also being tricked.

Japan Today reports that the banking industry isn’t crazy about the idea either since it requires them to restrict their customers and involves costly upgrades.

According to one online comment: “This sounds like yokinfusa to me.” Yokinfusa (meaning “account lockdown”) is a Japanese term that describes a blanket freezing of citizens’ assets by the government, either by imposing withdrawal limits or imposing incredibly high taxes on any bank transaction. It was done in post-war Japan to curb hyperinflation, and the idea tends to pop up now and again as a possible solution to the country’s ongoing economic malaise.

This post is also available in: Spanish