Barclays let customers 'switch off' debit card to avoid fraud

8 May 2017, 21:58   By Samantha Smith

BARCLAYS are now allowing their customers to control the spending on their debit cards, introducing this ability as part of a £10 million digital safety campaign.

barclays bank branch
Credit: Tony Baggett/

Customers are now able to deactivate their debit cards for all online purchases, as well as set limits on how much can be withdrawn from cash machines.

By enabling them to do this, Barclays aim to lower the incidence of cybercrime and online fraud, which according to Get Safe Online cost the UK almost £11 billion in 2016.

Yet Barclays are also advising their customers to be more aware of how they conduct themselves online, with the results of a survey conducted by the bank revealing that a quarter of British people have been victimised by digital crime in the last three years.

'Frighteningly easy'

In order to offer protection against such crime, Barclays have therefore enabled their customers to set limits on the use of their debit cards.

Aside from being able to choose whether or not their cards can be used to shop online, customers will also be able to lower their daily ATM withdrawal limit.

Instead of keeping this limit at the usual £300, a Barclays debit cardholder will now be able to set it to £100 or £50, for example, thereby limiting the amount of harm that could be done in the event that a criminal gets hold of their card and its details.

According to researchers at the University of Newcastle, obtaining such details can often be "frighteningly easy" for skilled hackers, as a paper published in December claimed.

It will therefore come as reassurance to Barclays' customers that, even if cybercrime can't be eradicated in one fell swoop, they can do something to make it less likely.

Boosting digital safety levels

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Yet as the bank's campaign makes clear, what's needed to make cybercrime less likely isn't only increased control over debit cards, but more digital education and awareness.

For example, Barclays' survey revealed that the UK public aren't taking enough precautions online, with nearly 20% of people who are hit by an online scam failing to do anything afterwards to improve their cyber defences.

At the same time, only 17% of people are able to correctly identify online threats, such as phishing messages and potential malware.

Given these gaps in the public's knowledge, Barclays are inviting customers to take part in an online quiz to reveal just how clued up about cybersecurity they are.

It's hoped that this will encourage them to improve their cyber awareness and to do more to protect themselves online.

As Barclays UK CEO Ashok Vaswani explained, "I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap".

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