Serious credit card delinquencies continued to climb in the first quarter, but there were signs that lenders' tighter credit criteria were having a positive effect.

Veribanc Inc. said 2% of card debt was at least 90 days past due on March 31, well above the 1.70% a year earlier. But the size and rate of increase was less than the rise of 35 basis points between the first quarters of 1995 and 1996.

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