Many cardholders unsure of how to activate cards: Poll

SINGAPORE - Eight in 10 Singapore consumers (79 per cent) are aware that they need to activate their debit and credit cards for overseas purchases, but a quarter of them do not know how to do so, a survey has found.

The remaining two in 10 (21 per cent) of those polled are unaware of this new security measure and the fact that after Oct 1 they will need to activate their cards for overseas use.

The survey, conducted jointly by The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and Visa, was carried out online early this month. In all, 327 respondents aged at least 18 years were surveyed.

More than a third of those at the younger end of the age spectrum (18 to 34 years old) were unaware of this requirement.

ABS announced in July that all 10 card-issuing banks here will deactivate the magnetic stripes on their credit and debit cards by Oct 1 in the interest of safeguarding cardholders' account details and preventing lost or stolen cards from being cloned by syndicates. Of the 79 per cent who were aware of this, 24 per cent of them did not know 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 they 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."

Visa's country manager for Singapore and Brunei Ooi Huey Tyng said ABS and bank partners could do more to ensure that cardholders are not caught out while abroad.

Activation methods vary from bank to bank, but generally include SMS, online banking, bank hotlines and local ATMs.

A spokesman for ABS and Visa told The Business Times that Singapore banks are expected to do more to reach out to their cardholders on this new requirement. Desmond Tan, the head of group lifestyle financing at OCBC Bank, said the bank was notifying all its cardholders through their August, September and October statements.

The notification can also be found on the bank's personal banking log-in page and social media platforms. He said: "Should customers already be overseas before the activation of their cards, they can visit the OCBC website after Oct 1 to activate their cards immediately.

Or if they have a phone banking PIN, they can call our customer service hotline."

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