Reasons for freezing of bank cards in China and reduced functionality of unfrozen cards

After banks began to close inactive bank accounts, as we previously reported on our website, another wave of bank card freezes began in China from June 2022.


As bank card management continues to strengthen, more and more personal bank accounts are subject to functional restrictions. Recently, the abnormal state of bank cards of a large number of users has been a concern in many banks in China.


Several foreigners recently in WeChat groups reported that their bank cards were frozen and they could not be used normally. They had to go to a bank branch to unlock them before they could be reinstated.


According to explanations from the bank staff, the reason for blocking the user's bank card this time is mainly due to the fact that the public security department has recently carried out relevant risk checks, requiring banking institutions to check every account.


In fact, since the beginning of June 2022, the freezing of bank cards of a number of users began, including large state-owned banks, such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which have adopted certain restrictions on risky accounts, which sometimes include accounts of foreigners.


A client with a frozen account will receive a reminder text message from the bank. The content of the text message roughly says that the user's bank card external transfer function is limited, but the text message does not mention a specific reason, just a notice.


As for the reasons for the freezing of bank cards in China, there are mainly two types of reasons for freezing bank cards, the first is a bank card that has not been transacted for too long, and the second is bank cards with frequent large-value transactions, these two types of personal bank accounts will be regarded by the banking system as risky.


To unlock a frozen bank card, you need to bring your passport and bank card to the bank for manual processing. The materials required by each bank may vary slightly. Some banks are more strict and require the user's social security card, lease agreement and Certificate of Work Permit with Residence Permit. Unfreezing a bank card is very similar to the process of re-opening an account, and it will take some time to unlock.


According to some users, even if the unlock is successful, some bank cards will be downgraded to second-class cards, and the daily transaction limit will be only 5,000 yuan. An employee of one Chinese bank said that if the limit was exceeded, the card could be frozen again.


After switching to a second class card, some functional restrictions will apply, one of which is the limit. The main function of the second class account is to conduct frequent transactions with small capital, while the first class account has more complete functions.


However, ICBC customer service staff stated that as long as there are no account authentication issues and the user can use the bank card according to the standard process, under normal circumstances, the bank card will not be refrozen.


The reason why banks freeze bank cards on a large scale is largely due to fraud in telecommunications networks. In telecom fraud, using purchased bank accounts to commit crimes is a common method for criminals. Many illegally sold bank cards are no longer available. This is an ordinary bank card, but it has become a tool for money laundering for criminals.


Bank cards with no transactions for a long time, bank cards with a small amount of funds in the account, or bank cards with sudden large transactions are usually treated as cards with abnormal operations, and banks urgently take measures to freeze them.


In fact, many banks freeze users' bank cards in order to cooperate with public security authorities and protect the security of user accounts, especially in the current environment, freezing a bank card and then unlocking it will bring some trouble, but in terms of results, it is really beneficial for customers.