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Frequently asked questions: Security Device

General questions

How secure is Online banking?

Security is our top priority. Your financial information is protected by our 128-bit encryption code and automatic time-out to prevent unauthorised access.

HSBC also provides a Physical Security Device or Digital Security Device which generates a series of single-use security codes unique to your account, that must be used to log on and when performing transactions that warrant a higher level of security.

Find out more about our online security measures by visiting our Security Centre.

Why do you offer a security device for log on?

Online fraudsters are increasingly sophisticated, and we are constantly evolving our protection to make sure that the security of your accounts is protected. Using a Security Device when you log on greatly improves the security of your accounts and reduces the risk of your details being used fraudulently.

Some customers have told us they would prefer not to use a Security Device, you will still be able to log on with your username and password and perform transactions that warrant a lower level of security.

What are the differences between the Digital Security Device and the Physical Security Device?

The Digital Security Device is accessed on your mobile phone as part of the HSBC Canada Mobile Banking app. A Physical Security Device is a device about the same size as a credit card that you carry with you and can live in your pocket.

Why should I choose to have a security device?

Online fraudsters are increasingly sophisticated, and we are constantly evolving our protection to make sure that the security of your accounts is protected. Using a Security Device as well as a username and password when you log on greatly improves the security of your accounts and reduces the risk of your details being used fraudulently. Having a security device also means you can access more functionality within HSBC Online banking.

How does the Security Device work?

Once activated, your Security Device is uniquely linked to you. You can generate a security code using the Security Device each time you log on which we validate to confirm your identity.

Each security code is only accepted for a short period of time, so even if the code is discovered it is not possible to use it later to fraudulently access your accounts.

Your Security Device can also generate codes to validate individual transactions and other online banking functions, making them more secure.

Why do I have to use my Security Device to validate transactions?

When you use your Security Device to validate a transaction, the unique code it generates verifies the authenticity of the destination account number and stops any fraudsters trying to redirect the transaction.

What if I forget all my log on details?

This is a two stage process. We will first ask you to complete the details of what you would like your new password and security questions to be. You then need to call us at 1-877-621-8811. You will need to provide the reset code which will be displayed on the screen at the end of the reset process. We will confirm your identity by asking a security question and will activate your new security details. You can then log on using the new details.

In the event that you also cannot remember your username, you need to call us at 1-877-621-8811 to get your username before you can proceed to complete the process of resetting your password and security questions.

Will I still need to use my existing password?

Once you have fully activated your Security Device or Digital Security Device, you will have the choice to no longer use your password to access online banking. If you are using a desktop, you'll be asked to enter a 6-digit code from your Security Device or Digital Security Device. You will still need your password if you choose to log on without your Security Device.

How do I log on without my Security Device?

When you enter your username you will be prompted to log on using your Security Device. You will also see the option to log on without your Security Device. You can then logon using your password, however; you will only be able to perform transactions that warrant a lower level of security.

Is logging on without a Security Device or Digital Security Device less secure?

The most secure way to bank online is to use a Security Device or Digital Security Device. We've devised the system so that higher risk transactions, such as paying someone for the first time, Global Transfers and changes to your security details will always require you to log on with a Security Device or Digital Security Device, while transactions that carry a lower risk to you can still be made with only a username and password.

I've changed my mind and I would like a Security Device. How do I get one?

In your online banking profile click on your name and select Manage my Security Device from the dropdown menu. You can also call Customer Service at 1-877-621-8811 to request a Security Device.

I'm worried I may find the buttons or reading the Physical Security Device display difficult. What should I do?

You can activate a Digital Security Device or order a larger version of the Security Device by contacting us at 1-877-621-8811.

Digital security device

What are the benefits of a Digital Security Device over a Physical Security Device?

If you have a compatible smartphone, a Digital Security Device means you always have it with you and you don't have to worry about remembering to bring your physical security device with you everywhere. This helps to ensure you have full access to all functionality in HSBC Online banking, wherever you are. You can use your Digital Security Device within the HSBC Mobile Banking app or to generate a code when you log on to HSBC Online banking through your desktop computer.

Can I have a Digital Security Device on more than one device?

No, a Digital Security Device can only be registered to one device. If you'd like to change the mobile device which your Digital Security Device is linked to, just call us on 1-877-621-8811.

Can I use my tablet as my Digital Security Device?

Yes, you can set up and use a Digital Security Device on an iPad or Android tablet.

Can two people use the same phone for their Digital Security Device?

No. You can only register one Digital Security Device to each device.

If I have no internet access or phone signal on my mobile device, can I still generate a security code? Can I still use the HSBC Mobile Banking app?

You don't need to be connected to the internet or have a phone signal to use your Digital Security Device. However, you do need a 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi data connection signal to access online banking through the HSBC Mobile Banking app.

You will also need a working data connection to download and set up your Digital Security Device. Please note that internet usage on a 3G or 4G connection will be subject to your network provider's usual charges and usage allowances.

If I'm abroad, should I switch off roaming on my mobile if I need to use my Digital Security Device?

To use the Digital Security Device you do not need a mobile signal, so roaming can be turned off. However, if you are unable to use a Wi-Fi network to access the internet and Online banking you would need to switch roaming on. Standard roaming data charges will apply depending on your network.

What do I need to do to transfer my Digital Security Device to a new smartphone (iPhone® or Android®)?

There are three different ways to transfer your Digital Security Device:

  1. If you know you are going to "trade in" your old smartphone, you can deactivate your Digital Security Device by going to Profile > Security in the app before you discard your old phone. Once you get your new smartphone, you can then activate the Digital Security Device.
  2. If you get a new smartphone but still have the old one and it's in working order, you can switch your Digital Security Device from the old phone to the new one. Download the HSBC Canada Mobile Banking App on your new smartphone and select Activate from the Profile > Security menu. You will be asked to generate a security code from your old phone and enter it into your new phone for activation.

    Please note that you do not need cellular service or internet access to generate a security code.
  3. If your old phone is lost, stolen, or broken, please call Customer Service at 1-877-621-8811 and we can help in switching your Digital Security Device.

What if I accidentally delete the HSBC Mobile Banking app?

If you delete the app accidentally you will need to re-install it and then call us at 1-877-621-8811 to arrange for your Digital Security Device to be installed.

Do I have to use my HSBC Security Device every time I log on?

No. You can choose to log on with your username and password, however; you will not be able to perform some transactions that warrant a higher level of security.

Do I need multiple Digital Security Devices for different countries?

Yes. Each country has a separate Digital Security Device.

Physical security device

Why does my Physical Security Device keep switching off?

The Security Device switches itself off to preserve battery life - usually after 30 seconds. We suggest only switching it on and entering your PIN just before you need to use it.

What if I am away from home when my Physical Security Device arrives?

Your Security Device upgrade pack will usually be sent to your home or correspondence address, within two to three weeks. You then have 30 days to activate your Security Device during which time you can continue to log on as normal. If you are going to be away beyond the timeframes outlined above, please contact us at 1-877-621-8811 to discuss your options. For immediate delivery, we recommend the Digital Security Device.

Why do I have to set up a PIN/password on my Security Device?

The PIN/password provides an extra layer of security as it prevents someone else from generating a security code with your Security Device. Combining this with your other log on details provides maximum protection for you, should the device be stolen or your details compromised online.

What if I forget my log on details or PIN, or my account is locked?

You can reset your security and log on details online by using your security questions and other security checks. Simply follow the appropriate links on the log on pages.

How long does the battery last?

Your Physical Security Device battery should last 3-5 years with normal use. When the battery is low, your Security Device will show a warning message and you should contact us to order a replacement. Contact us as soon as you notice the battery warning to avoid being left without a working Security Device.

What happens if I lose my Physical Security Device or it breaks?

You will need to contact our Customer Service and we will arrange to send a new Security Device to your home or correspondence address. It might be a great time to opt into the Digital Security Device.

How long will it take for a replacement Physical Security Device to arrive?

If you have requested a replacement by mail it will take approximately two to three weeks.

I have received my Physical Security Device and it doesn't work

Log onto Online Banking and start a chat with us by selecting Need help?. You can also call us at


If I report my Security Device as lost and then find it, can I use it?

No. Once you tell us you have lost your Security Device we will immediately deactivate it to prevent fraudulent access to your accounts.

What do I do with my old Security Device - is it recyclable?

Around 60% of a Secure Device's component parts are recyclable. They should only be disposed of at electronic recycling centers. Before taking your old Security Device to the electronic recycling center, ensure that the Device has been locked. To lock the Device, enter an incorrect PIN three times. Once the Security Device is locked successfully, it will display the word "LOCK PIN" together with a seven-digit code.  You can then take it to an electronic recycling center.

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