Contrary to some recent hopeful signs in consumer credit quality, the most seriously delinquent credit card loans have climbed to record levels.

As tracked by Veribanc Inc., bank card loans at least 90 days past due or in nonaccrual status surpassed $4 billion in the third quarter. The implications for banks in 1997 could be dire, depending on the extent of credit expansion in the fourth quarter, said Veribanc research director Warren Heller.

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