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On-off switch for debit cards

By David McMillin ·
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

You know that horrible feeling when you realize your debit card is not in your wallet? Or on your desk? Or anywhere?

Texas-based City Bank -- not to be confused with another, bigger member of the banking industry -- recently debuted a new security feature to help make that scenario less of a nightmare for its customers. The bank's mobile app now gives account holders the ability to remotely activate and deactivate their debit cards.

John Adams at "American Banker" recently discussed the new tool with Jim Simpson, City Bank's vice president of information technology. He highlighted the convenience of this mobile banking tool.

If you wake up in the morning and don't know where your debit card is, or if you've misplaced it, you can log on to the mobile app and turn your debit card off. Then, if you find the card later in the day, you can log back into the mobile app and turn the card back on. You're able to avoid calling an 800 number and going through all sorts of manual steps to do the same thing.

Forget feverishly calling the restaurant from the previous evening and frantically digging under couch cushions. This app lets account holders ensure no one will be able to use the debit card if it is truly lost. They can calmly disable the card on a temporary basis while embarking on a quest to uncover a piece of plastic.

This kind of tool benefits both sides, too. I'm guessing banks deal with plenty of forgetful account holders on a daily basis, and this could certainly free up some call center representatives to help deal with other issues.

Of course, an important disclaimer: If you've managed to lose your debit card, you may have lost your phone, too. In that case, the app can't solve your problems. You'll need to contact the bank directly.

Have you seen any especially innovative security features at other banks? Can you remember a time when this debit card disabling tool would have been useful?

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