Credit and debit cards need to be activated for overseas use from Oct 1

The next time you travel overseas and plan to use your credit or debit card to buy something, be sure to activate it before leaving Singapore. -- FILE PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
The next time you travel overseas and plan to use your credit or debit card to buy something, be sure to activate it before leaving Singapore. -- FILE PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

THE next time you travel overseas and plan to use your credit or debit card to buy something, be sure to activate it before leaving Singapore.

The Association of Banks (ABS) told The Straits Times on Monday that all 10 card-issuing banks here will deactivate the magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards by Oct 1. The stripes on all newly issued cards will also be inactive by default.

This is a new security measure to safeguard card users' account details and to prevent lost or stolen cards from being cloned by "skimming" syndicates, said ABS' director Ong-Ang Ai Boon.

The activation methods vary from bank to bank, and may include SMS, ATMs and phone hotlines. Some give cardholders the option to activate the stripe for a limited time, while others require customers to deactivate them again after the travel period.

Local transactions will not be affected. This is because all credit and debit card payments here are processed using embedded EMV chips, which are said to be more secure.

But merchants in the United States and South Korea still rely on the magnetic stripes. Not all retailers elsewhere accept cards with EMV chips.

HSBC will be deactivating the magnetic stripes on its credit and debit cards issued in Singapore by the end of next month, while other banks such as DBS, UOB, Maybank and Citibank will follow suit.