Australian banks have announced that they will issue debit cards to customers who don’t have them and who may be self-isolating. This will allow people to continue to pay for their goods and services online and over the phone throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, some customers have passbook accounts or transaction accounts with no linked debit card. These customers may have difficulty paying for goods because they can’t get to the bank, or because a retailer isn’t accepting cash. Debit cards will allow people to pay without cash in-store, online or over the phone.
How this might affect you
If you have a passbook account or a bank account without a debit card, your bank will contact you to let you know that a debit card is being added to your account. Alternatively, your bank may open a new account with a debit card and allow you to transfer funds from your passbook account to your new debit card account.
Do I need to use the card?
You don’t have to activate your debit card. If you’re not having trouble managing your current accounts and paying for the things you need, you may decide you don’t need a debit card. You can dispose of the debit card without activating it.
Is the card ready to use straightaway?
Before you can use your card, you’ll need to contact your bank to activate it. Your bank will ask you security questions to confirm your identity. Only you can activate your card. Once activated, your card is ready to use.
Do I have to use online banking with this new debit card?
No, you don’t have to use online banking. Only set up online banking for your new debit card if you’re comfortable using the internet or have a trusted person who can assist you. Don’t give your banking passwords or PIN to anyone.
Can I give my card to a friend or family member to do my shopping?
Giving your debit card or PIN to someone means they have access to the money in your account. Only do this if you trust the person and are sure they will not use your money for anything other than what you have asked. Make sure you ask the person for receipts so you can continue to keep track of your spending.
You can speak to your bank about setting up your debit account so it only has a small amount of spending money in it, while the rest of your money stays in your passbook account.
I’m not sure I trust my family member with my money
If you don’t trust a family member or friend, or if you think they might access your money without your knowledge, don’t let them help you set up the card or online banking. Don’t give them the PIN or password.
If you feel pressured by friends or family members to give away money or access to your accounts, talk to someone you can trust. You can call Seniors Rights Victoria’s helpline on 1300 368 821 for a confidential discussion and support.
How do I keep track of my money without using my passbook?
Keep track of your account by contacting the bank and asking them to post regular statements to you. If you notice unfamiliar or suspicious transactions, contact your bank.
I used my debit card a few times but want to go back to using my passbook
If you activated your card but decided you no longer need it, call your bank to ask them to cancel the card.
Where do I go for help?
Call your bank directly if you have any questions about activating or using your debit card.