MyKad woes, more complicated than you think

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Stumped. That was how The Malay Mail reporter Benedict Ng felt after leaving a bank at Jalan Klang Lama last Friday.

As part of an exercise to see if banks were linked to the National Registration Department (NRD) to vet and verify those performing transactions, Ng called up the bank’s customer service and was informed their branches were all not linked with NRD.

In 2011, The Malay Mail had in a land scam expose revealed that a tampered MyKad was used to perform a land transaction. The fraudster had managed to open a bank account in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Ng shares his experience:

I was informed by the customer service officer that I was able to conduct any transaction with the bank as long as the bank could read my card through its reader.

I then headed to the bank in Jalan Klang Lama and was asked to present my MyKad for verification purposes.

The teller had a hard time inserting the card into the card reader, claiming the new MyKad was “much thicker” than the older one.

Once the card was inserted, she asked me to place my thumb on the reader to validate my card.

My details were printed out and the teller matched them with my application form.

I asked the teller how she obtained my details and she replied that the bank servers were linked with NRD.

She said if the cards were unreadable, bank tellers would not approve the application.

When asked what if I had a tampered MyKad, she said as long as the card read and everything matched, the bank will continue with the application.

I knew she had no idea what she was talking about. Further, her explanation contradicts that of the customer service officer, the National Registration Department and the National Union of Bank Employees.

I left the branch with my new bankbook within an hour. 

‘Misuse not our problem’

The NRD does not hold any responsibility for the misuse of MyKad.

While the MyKad is said to be advanced and tamper-proof, NRD public relations officer Jainisah Mohd Noor said the onus was on the respective parties to verify details of the cardholders.

“We have distributed MyKad readers to local authorities, so if an officer does not carry a reader or does not know how to use one, it is not our responsibility,” she said.

“As long as people do not use MyKad readers for identity verification, MyKad will still have its face value, allowing it to remain as an identity card even if it is fake.”

When pointed out The Malay Mail reporter was able to replace his MyKad easily without having to lodge a police report, she said:

“Under the Registration Act 1959, applications for stolen or lost identity cards are approved if their personal data with NRD checks out.

“You do not need a police report each time you lose your MyKad because the microchip in the card does not have a tracking system. There’s no way of tracking a lost MyKad.

She said many Malaysians still preferred to carry separate documents instead of placing all their information in the MyKad.

“We have done our part in providing an advanced card. But there are many citizens who prefer to carry their driving licence, Touch ‘n Go and bank cards instead of updating such details into their MyKad.”

Banks not linked with NRD

The NRD has acknowledged that banks are not linked with it to validate a cardholder’s identity when opening a bank account.

Public relations officer Jainisah Mohd Noor said: “Banks have MyKad readers but are not linked to our servers.

“They were instructed not to approve any applications if the card is unreadable.

“The reader will not be able to compute any details if either the microchip or physical appearance of the card had been tampered.”

She said MyKad cannot be replicated or duplicated.

“We have not heard of a case where MyKad microchip was replicated for illegal use.

“But we are aware that physical changes can be done to the old MyKad.

“The bank officers who approves a new account should use his discretion. Some may not follow procedures as instructed,” she said.

National Union of Bank Employee (NUBE) secretary-general J. Solomon said there were several occasions when members informed him of fake MyKad holders applying to open bank accounts.

“There’s not a bank in the country that have gadgets to verify the origin of the card holder. Even the biometric scanners cannot verify it,” he said.

Solomon said banks, with the help of the government, had to be more thorough when approving an application.

“Bank Negara should come up with a mandatory regulation (in ensuring an applicant’s details are vetted) to prevent fraud. They must not take such matters lightly,” said.

Association of Banks Malaysia executive director Chuah Mei Lin said they were currently investigating if all banks were using biometric readers to identify applicants.

An expose by The Malay Mail on a land scam in 2011 revealed the fraudster carried out a land transaction with a tampered MyKad. He had opened a bank account in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

NRD had then maintained the MyKad was tamper proof.

Make it law to ensure everyone changes to latest MyKad

Putrajaya has been told to revise its policies regarding MyKad, including ensuring everyone changes their card to the latest version.

Last week, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told parliament that 565,157 MyKad were reported lost from 2010 to 2013.

Sin Chew Daily has urged the Home Ministry and National Registration Department (NRD) to investigate where these lost cards had disappeared to as the MyKad was an important document which could be abused.

The Home Ministry did not deny these lost cards could have been misused by foreigners, particularly illegal foreign workers.

“It seems that foreigners abusing MyKad has become a very common phenomenon and this is alarming,” the daily said in a commentary.

The writer noted that MyKad was extremely popular in the black market, claiming that one MyKad could be sold for RM5,000.

The writer cited the recent case of Sarawak police busting a syndicate forging identity cards that involved a staff from Putrajaya NRD.

The commentary said social stability could be threatened as a NRD officer was involved in the case and that every step should be taken to ensure there was no abuse of power.

The writer also cited the frequent upgrades of the MyKad, which could have contributed to the fake identity card problem because even law enforcement was facing difficulties in verifying the cards.

“From 1948 to 2012, the Malaysian identity card has been changed at least five times.

“The MyKad was first issued in 2000 and since then has seen several upgrades. Since it was not compulsory for the people to change to the newer version, some people are still holding the older ones.

“Multiple versions of the MyKad existing in the market would have provided room for criminals to forge them as their authenticity was hard to tell with the naked eye,” the commentary read.

The writer said the government should review its MyKad policy and make it compulsory for citizens to change to the new one within a certain period to ensure everyone was holding the latest version.

The commentary suggested that the authorities consider increasing the fines for those who lose their MyKad to educate the public on its importance.

Security firms apply stricter rules

Several security firms have tightened employment procedures to weed out applicants using fake MyKad.

Tegas Security Services said it was working with the police to vet potential employees.

A company spokesman said applications were first reviewed by the company and sent to the police for background checks and identity verification.

He said: “We deal with the police on all matters related to guard recruitment.

“Applicants are registered and interviewed by our recruiters first.

“After a month, they will be reviewed by the police and applicants will be called to the police station to be interviewed for background checks and validation of identity.”

The spokesman said applicants must have an original MyKad and will be denied employment if the card was unreadable. Fake applicants will be immediately referred to the police.