SINGAPORE - With this card, you can borrow up to 10 books from National Library Board (NLB) libraries.
That is two more than if you were to use your identity card (IC).
But if you lose that card and want to cancel or deactivate it, you will not be able to use your IC to borrow books.
And if you do not cancel or deactivate it, whoever finds it can borrow library books in your name, leaving you at risk of having to pay fines for overdue books.
This is because the NRIC and the PAssion card have the same information encoded in their barcodes - a person's NRIC number.
The PAssion Card is issued by the People's Association (PA).
Its benefits include the ability to earn loyalty points when the card is used at various retail outlets, which entitles holders to vouchers and discounts, and being able to enjoy membership rates when you register for courses and activities at community clubs.
Ms Julia Tan, 25, a financial consultant, lost her PAssion card last year and was worried because her IC number was encoded in the barcode of the PAssion card.
She said: "When we apply for a credit card, they ask for our IC number, but they won't put the details on the card.
"I'm also concerned that someone can borrow books with a lost card and not return them, leaving the original cardholder with the fines."
Full-time national serviceman Kumaraguru Valasamy, 21, was surprised to learn his IC details were on the card.
He said: "I usually just use it to get movie discounts and was unaware that it had such information in its barcode."
A spokesman for Logicode, a company specialising in barcodes, said a barcode is used to help organisations identify an individual or product while helping individuals quickly access their personal databases in an organisation.
Many local organisations choose to encode a person's IC number in the barcodes on cards due to its ubiquity among Singaporeans. The IC number is also encoded on various other cards' barcodes, such as the TransitLink Concession Card and a driving licence.
Associate Professor Chang Ee-Chien of the Department of Computer Science, National University of Singapore School Of Computing, said cardholders need not be too concerned about serious cases of identity theft if they were to lose their cards.
He said: "There are many ways to get a person's IC number as you have to state it when signing forms and contracts. It is not a credential that is used in authentication by most computer systems."
A PA spokesman told The New Paper on Jan 12 that many other cards on the market have a holder's IC number in its barcode.
He said: "Members who have misplaced their PAssion Card should contact our customer service hotline to deactivate their card and also report the loss to other partners such as NLB."
An NLB spokesman told TNP that patrons who lose their cards should inform library staff immediately.
"They can get a new library membership card which is registered with a unique card number to borrow books."
Its spokesman said: "Alternatively, they can sign up for myLibrary account and borrow books using the NLB Mobile smartphone app, which requires a password for access."
Dr Alan Chong, Associate Professor of Global Information Flow Politics at Nanyang Technological University's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told TNP that organisations can reduce reliance on the IC number by implementing passwords as a secondary form of identification.
He said: "The IC number should be treated as the equivalent of a username, which is the first key of access. The second key should be a unique password other than the IC number."
This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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