Tips for Creating a Secure PIN

Written by , May 21, 2011

Tips for Creating a Secure PINPersonal Identification Numbers, or PINs, have been in use since the late 1960s. These simple numeric codes provide added security for a variety of activities, including accessing voicemail and obtaining information about unemployment claims. But their most common use is as a password that allows you to use a debit card or withdraw money from an ATM.

A good PIN is easy for you to remember, but difficult for someone else to guess. That way it helps minimize your losses if someone steals your credit or debit card or otherwise gets access to its number.

Here is some advice and tips on how to create an effective PIN.

  • Don’t use a numerical sequence that’s easy to guess, such as 1234 or 2468. Repeated numbers such as 5555 are even worse. Having a PIN like these is just asking for trouble.
  • Avoid using your birth day and month, the last four digits of your Social Security number or the last four digits of your phone number. These are very easy to remember, but they’re also easy to guess. Credit and debit cards are often stolen by someone you know, and that person may also know other information about you that will make figuring out your PIN a snap. And in the event of a data breach, a thief who doesn’t even know you could have access to such information.
  • Consider creating a PIN out of a word or letters. Most ATM keypads have the same letters on the buttons as you would find on a phone, so you can convert the letters of a word into numbers. For maximum security, use a word that’s not particularly common. Or better yet, use the first letter of each word of a four-word phrase.
  • Use a date that has special meaning to you, but that would be hard for others to guess. It could be the date you got your dog, the date your favorite actor was born, or your third cousin’s birthday. If you want to mix it up a little more, put the day before the month or use the month and the last two digits of the year.
  • Use a little creative math. Take a number that’s easy for you to remember, and add a certain number to each digit. For example, if you were born in 1985, you could add 1 to each digit and get 2096. You could even add a different number to each digit for added security.
  • Having a PIN that is hard to crack is important, but so is having a PIN that you can easily remember. If you have to write it down and carry it with you, there’s a good chance that someone that makes off with your credit or debit card will also end up with that piece of paper. The above methods will help you create a PIN that is memorable to you yet still secure.

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