Don't forget to activate card for overseas use

SINGAPORE - About one in five (21 per cent) are not aware that they will need to activate their credit and debit cards for overseas use from next month, a survey has found.

Among those who are aware of the new security measures, close to one in four (24 per cent) said they do not know how to activate their cards.

The online survey was conducted earlier this month by Visa and The Association of Banks in Singapore.

The survey's results were released yesterday. A total of 327 consumers aged at least 18 years old were polled.

The association announced on July 30 that all 10 card-issuing banks here will be deactivating the magnetic stripe on most credit and debit cards by Tuesday.

Data encoded on the magnetic stripe can be easily read and copied, said the association. This can be exploited by card-skimming syndicates overseas.

Banks My Paper spoke to said they have been informing customers of the changes through a variety of channels such as card statements, notifications on bank websites, direct mailers, e-mail messages, social media and SMS messages.

Still, the survey showed that more than one in three consumers aged between 18 and 34 years old are unaware of the need to activate their cards for overseas use.

The deactivation of the magnetic stripe will not affect transactions which use the card's embedded EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, which is said to be impossible to copy data from.

While all transactions in Singapore are already processed via the EMV chip, that is not true for those overseas. For example, the United States and South Korea still rely on magnetic stripes.

Ms Lydia Low, 27, who travels about four times a year for leisure, said it is "troublesome" that she has to activate one of her credit cards before her next trip in November.

"I use my card overseas only for bigger purchases, or when I'm out of cash. Even so, (I do it) only at reputable stores," said the engineer.

Gone travelling without activating your card?

If you forget to activate the magnetic stripe on your credit or debit card before travelling overseas, all is not lost:

Citibank Singapore's head of Credit Payment Products, Ms Jacquelyn Tan, said: "If the country does use (the) magnetic stripe at the point of purchase, (the customer's) card would be declined. But he would then receive an instant SMS from Citibank to inform him to activate his card via SMS."

Customers can also call the CitiPhone hotline, use Citibank Online or the Citi Mobile app to activate the card.

OCBC Bank's head of Group Lifestyle Financing, Mr Desmond Tan, said: "Should customers already be overseas before the activation of their cards, they can visit the bank's website, after Oct 1, to activate the cards immediately.

"Or, if they have a Phone Banking PIN, they can call our customer-service hotline on +65-6363-3333."

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