Travelling abroad? Have you activated your debit and credit cards for overseas use yet?
From the beginning of October, all ten Singapore card-issuing banks will have deactivated the old magnetic stripes on cards and all magnetic stripe-based point-of-sale purchases at overseas merchants will be blocked.
According to local news media, it’s a message that has more-or-less got through, but there are worrying gaps which mean travellers might only find out about the new regime when it’s too late and they find themselves standing in a store in a foreign country with a worthless piece of plastic.
Channel News Asia says that the campaign to inform card holders has reached just less than 80 per cent of consumers who now know of the need to activate their cards for foreign usage. However, this mean one-in-five people still don’t know, with the greatest gap being among 18-34 year-olds, according to the survey conducted by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and Visa.
On top of that, a quarter of those surveyed have no idea how to activate their cards. ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon said: “While most customers are aware of the need to activate their cards for personal security, it is also essential that all cardholders understand how to activate their card before travelling. The last thing travellers need is to be inconvenienced while overseas, unable to access their card or account in order to make purchases.”
Mrs Ong-Ang added that the new regime had been put in place as a new security measure to safeguard card users’ account details and to prevent lost or stolen cards from being cloned by criminals. The activation process couldn’t be easier. Citibank, for example, offers a number of options, including a self-serve SMS service in which you can activate (or deactivate) your card with a simple message. There are also phone banking and website alternatives.
Activation methods vary depending on the bank, and some allow cardholders the option to activate for a limited time, while others require customers to deactivate them again after returning home.