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How do I activate a debit card?

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When a person receives a new debit card, either as a replacement card or through opening a new account, the debit card will need to be activated.

As debit cards are usually sent to account holders through the post they aren’t activated when mailed. If they were pre-activated, there would be a greater likelihood of the cards being stolen and used fraudulently. So when an account holder gets a new debit card, it is inert and will need to be activated prior to use.

There are usually two ways to activate a new debit card, either over the telephone or online.

To activate the debit card over the phone, the account holder rings up the issuing bank on the normal customer service number, usually provided on the card. There’s usually some automatic signing-in procedure, which is seen by the bank as an adequate way of establishing identity. However, if the account holder has never registered for telephone banking service for this account, this may need to be done first, and that may require some form of identification.

In some cases there’s an automated procedure to activate the debit card. But most of the time the account holder will be expected to activate the debit card after talking to a customer services operator.

The other way to activate a new debit card is over the internet, via the bank’s normal online banking portal or platform. Like activating the card over the phone, the account holder must first be pre-authorised to use the bank’s website. This can usually be done by registering online, creating a user account with a password, and entering the numbers printed on the debit card.

If the debit card user is pre-authorised, then using the internet has several advantages. It is quicker, requiring a few clicks, with no need to wait for an operator. It can also be done at any time of the day or night.

Requiring activation of debit cards before use protects both the bank and the account holder against fraud. It is a relatively simple procedure that can save everyone the pain and frustration of a compromised account.

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