Last Updated on January 1, 2023
If you just had your card blocked, then here is a guide on how to activate a blocked ATM card. Your blocked ATM card be unblocked in many ways typically depending on the reason it was initially blocked.
You can activate a blocked ATM card by using the bank’s mobile app or by contacting the customer care center. You may also be able to manage your card via SMS and even USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) if your bank supports this feature.
Your ATM could be blocked for reasons such as entering the wrong PIN too many times, attempting to make purchases with an insufficient balance, exceeding your usable amount limit, and more. Your bank puts in place security measures to protect your card and the linked bank account. For instance, your bank is also likely to block your card if it is not an EMV chip-based.
How to activate a blocked ATM card
We have seen some of the reasons your ATM can get blocked. Now, we are interested in the various ways to activate blocked ATM card:
Use your mobile banking app
Most banks allow you to manage many processes from your bank app without visiting their offices. This includes the ability to activate and deactivate your card.
If you do not have your bank’s app, download one from their website or search the app store. Make sure you download the authentic bank app to avoid exposing yourself to a phished website. Visit the website of your bank and hit the download button for the app on that page, you will be automatically redirected to the app store for your Android or iOS.
Below are the typical steps to activate a blocked ATM card using your bank’s app:
- Download the mobile app.
- Log into your account (sign up if you do not already have one).
- Find and click on Card Services.
- Select your card from the list (if you have multiple cards linked to the account).
- Turn on the toggle button to activate your blocked ATM card.
You may be prompted to verify that it is you trying to make changes, so enter the OTP you receive on your registered email address or phone number.
If this method does not unblock your blocked ATM card, you may have to contact your bank.
Issuing the bank’s customer care
You can directly contact the ATM card issuing bank to activate your blocked card. Go to the website of your bank to obtain the service center’s helpline or email address and write your complaint to them. The context of your complaint should be that you want your ATM card unblocked.
The service center may require your information to verify your ID such as account number, date of birth, registered email address, the last few digits of the card number, etc.
You can also chat them up via their respective social media platforms. The bank will not ask for your bank account login details. Otherwise, this could be a case of bank log scamming which is fraudulent.
USSD or SMS
If your bank supports the USSD platform, you may be able to use it to unblock your deactivated ATM card. You only have to dial your bank’s USSD code and follow the screen prompts to enable your card.
A few banks allow using SMS features to block and unblock your banking card. Find out from the service center’s representative if you can enable your card via SMS. Of course, this requires you to have access to the phone number you used to open the bank account.
Tips to protect your ATM card
The EMV chip on your debit card adds an extra security layer. However, it is not enough to protect your card from fraud.
Do the following to protect your ATM card from illegal activities that can get it blocked:
Do not share your card information
Even the bank may not require your vital card information such as the CVV and full card number. The bank typically asks for a few digits of your card as they already have access to the needed information. A scammer, on the other hand, has no access to the information and attempts to phish you for them.
In simple terms, phishing is when an ATM card scammer devises means to steal your confidential information. In this case, a scammer wants to steal your card details such as the card number, card name, CVV, and expiry date. They can clone these details into another card.
Monitor your account transactions
If you find transactions you did not initiate on your bank statement, your ATM card may be compromised. You have to deactivate it immediately and reset your account passwords. You should also change your ATM card PIN before you report to your bank.
Do not misplace your card
Your ATM card can end up in the hands of a scammer who uses it to withdraw money from your bank account even without knowing your PIN.
Reasons your ATM card may be blocked
Let us explain the previously mentioned reasons an ATM card can be blocked:
Entering the wrong PIN.
Banking systems are designed to detect when you enter the wrong PIN for a card too many times during a transaction. As a security measure, the bank will automatically deactivate the card to prevent fraud.
Some banks will display a notification warning that if you enter the wrong PIN more than the specified number of attempts, the card will be disabled, this action could temporarily, and in extreme cases permanently. And to unlock the ATM card, your bank may have to verify your identity. Make sure to confirm your password before you hit the enter button.
Card loss or damage.
If you report your ATM card damaged or stolen, the bank will immediately deactivate it. In the case where your lost card is recovered, you have to activate it again.
Unfortunately, you may have to request a new debit or credit card if your bank permanently blocked it due to suspected Credit Card fraud.. This is a security measure that renders your card details (card number, name, expiry date, and CVV) useless to potential scams such as carding.
If the bank traces any fraudulent activity to your bank account, your debit card can be deactivated until you report yourself to them.
One of the signs that your bank account is being flagged is when you find chargebacks. If you initiated an illegal transaction or receive money from a flagged account, yours will be flagged and deactivated to prevent transactions in the account. Some scammers create what is known as a bank drop which they use to receive illicit funds.
As mentioned earlier, your debit card can be deactivated by the bank if you are using an insecure chip. EMV chips are considered better and less susceptible to ATM card skimmers. The bank does this for you to obtain a new card and remain protected.
Make sure to check if your card has not expired because you cannot complete transactions with an expired card. Your bank will notify you in a few days of the card being deactivated, so you need to apply for a new debit card.
You blocked it yourself.
You may have blocked your card accidentally or consciously. The same way you blocked the card is the same way you can activate it again without contacting your bank’s support team.
How can I unblock my ATM card by SMS?
Not all banks allow you to unblock your ATM card by SMS. Contact your bank to find out if they offer this feature and text the given keyword to the specified number to unblock your deactivated ATM card.
Can I unblock my bank card online?
You can unblock your bank card online, simply download your bank’s app and manage your card settings from your account. You may also disable the card for some services you do not use.
If the blocked ATM card is due to fraud, you may not be able to unblock it until you contact the bank in person to set the record right.