Against the Odds — Do’s and Don’ts for Configuring a Secure PIN Number
We all know that someone who’s waiting for their ‘numbers to come up’ is hoping for a lottery win. However, to fraudsters your PIN number is the jackpot, and depending on the methods that you use to configure and protect your PIN number, they have a greater or slimmer chance of hitting it than winning the lottery.
Here are some of the mistakes that people make when devising their PIN number, and what you should do instead to create your own and avoid become a victim.
Writing down your PIN number
Some people take the risk of writing their PIN number on their debit and credit cards or keeping it in a compartment of the same wallet or purse as the cards themselves. Keeping both together is never a good idea. Both can fall into the wrong hands easily.
Of course, some people use the same number for every single credit card they own as they’re out and about on their travels. Again, that’s a bad idea. You should use a different one for each card.
If you really must jot it down somewhere, write it in an obscure place such as in the chapter of a book. No one would think to look in page 421 of War and Peace. Don’t tell anyone your PIN number, either— not even to your best friend (some do!).
Consecutive numbers or words
123456 is a common PIN that can be cracked with a “dictionary attack” program. Princess and Password are common too. It’s always best to mix things up, use phrases combine letters, words and numbers and use upper and lower case.
Using a date with words
A popular way to remember one’s PIN number is to choose a date (or dates) that’s easy to remember. For most people, of course, that’s their birthday or wedding anniversary. But in the age of social media, this is risky, even with good antivirus protection. Many people publish their date of birth in their Facebook profile, unaware that they’re exposing themselves to potential fraud should (identity) thieves visit their profile.
A better use of the date method is to combine years (like when you and your spouse were born) or months (like when two of your kids were born) that you remember easily but which are obscure to others. Then choose a code word or phrase that links the two and will remind you of both dates. Like BrattyKiDs200708 or HappyMarried196566. Toss some upper case in there and your pretty secure.