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Tips on Creating Effective Personal Identification Numbers

Jul 1, 2008
Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are a part of nearly everyone's life today. The use of personal computers to conduct online banking, pay bills, and order products requires consumers create not only secure PINs, but ones that can be recalled easily.

First and foremost, PINs are security features, that help to keep money and information safe. But PINs are not of much use if they are difficult to remember or are based on numbers (like a phone number) that can be easily picked up by someone trying to steal an identity. With a few tips, choosing a good PIN number and remembering it can be easy. People who don't use a system for PIN numbers may end up writing them down somewhere - which is unsafe.

Tip 1: Writing Down Pin Numbers
Like passwords, PINs are often written down on the very things they are meant to protect. For instance, some individuals may write their PIN number on a credit or debit card. If the card is lost or stolen, it gives the holder a free pass to a bank or credit card account. And while it makes things very convenient for a thief, it can make things very inconvenient for the cardholder when their money - and even identity - is stolen.

Tip 2: Multiple PIN Numbers
Security experts suggest the use of multiple PIN numbers and passwords for different accounts. This way, if one PIN number is discovered or stolen, only one account will be affected. However, this can be challenging for people who hold numerous accounts. When faced with the choice of writing down a PIN number or using the same PIN for multiple accounts, it's a better idea to use the same numbers several times.

Tip 3: Creating Memorable PIN Numbers
It's a good idea to adopt a system to creating memorable PIN numbers. People utilize a variety of tricks. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but each can prove to be effective methods to creating secure PINs.

Tip 4: Word Method
One approach to creating a memorable PIN number is to create it from a word. For instance, think of the numbers and letters on a telephone and how sometimes phone numbers are created using "dial-by-name" in a company's phone system. Consider choosing a word for a PIN number, which may make it easier to recall. For example, a user might choose a name of the street he or she grew up on, or a favorite pet and then simply apply the appropriate numbers to the letters using a phone pad.

Disadvantage: The downside to using this method to create a PIN is that there are automated hacking programs that use words from the dictionary to crack a PIN or password. However, most bank systems will block a user after three unsuccessful attempts.

Tip 5: Date Method
Creating a PIN number from a significant date is anther way to create and recall a PIN number. Some people derive a PIN using a birthdate or other special occasion. For instance, a birthday of August 15, 1972 could become 8151 (for the 8th month, 15th day and 1 from the year), or a user could also derive 1519 from the same set of numbers.

Disadvantage: A personal acquaintance or someone who has acquired personal information such as a birthdate, could use this information to try to guess a PIN number. For best results, it's a good idea to mix the numbers using part of a date combined with an address or other number.

Tip 6: Cell Phone Friend Method
Some owners of cell phones actually create an imaginary or fictitious contact in their cell phone contacts, with a PIN number hidden within the contact's phone number.

Disadvantage: Cell phone owners risk losing their phone, a dead battery, or forgetting the phone at home.

Tip 7: Addition Method
Another approach to randomize a PIN number is to add numbers to an easily remembered number. With this method, a user adds 1 to each number of the base PIN number. For example, start with "4567" and add 1 toe each numeral to end up with "5678".

Disadvantage: This is a rather simple approach to creating a PIN number and therefore calls for some creativity on the user's part to create a PIN that is truly secure.

Tip 8: The Longer Method
With this method, the user creates the longest possible PIN number. For PINs that can use more than four digits, employ the miracles of math which offers endless combinations of numbers in a longer series versus a shorter series.

Disadvantage: Longer PIN numbers, while more secure, may also be harder to recall. Employ one of the above methods perhaps when using this method to create a system that will be easily recalled.
About the Author
AmericanMomentumBank.com provides a wide array of personal banking and business banking options and banking solutions tailored to your individual needs. For more information, please visit AmericanMomentumBank.com.
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