You have therefore forgotten your PIN code.
Perhaps you’ve relied on your credit card because of the stronger protections and rewards it offers compared to your debit card. Maybe all of you but stopped shopping IRL because of the pandemic. Or maybe your brain again it goes out of your memory for no reason.
Either way, you are pinless, bored and wondering why do we need pin codes, anyway? And why do financial institutions make them so hard to change?
Well, there is a good reason. Paul Benda, senior vice president of operational risk and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association, says that a PIN – officially, a personal identification number – is the credential that ensures that the person using the card is legitimate.
“It’s kind of like your fingerprint on your phone or the pattern you use to unlock your phone,” says Benda. “This ensures that whoever owns this item is the one who is authorized to use it.”
Mathematically, there are 10,000 possible ways to use the numbers 0 through 9 to create a four-digit PIN code. If a bad guy can enter three random PINs before the system blocks them, that theoretically means they have a 0.03% chance of guessing correctly and accessing money that doesn’t belong to them.
Here’s everything you need to know about how PINs work and what to do if you forget yours.
How PIN Codes Prevent Fraud
When you enter your PIN code into an ATM or card reader, Benda says, the card issuing company or financial institution to which it is linked can quickly – and securely – match your code to your account. . For this reason, it is important to keep your PIN secret.
Cyndie Martini, President and CEO of Member Access Processing, says that’s the message for a long time. Martini worked in the card processing department of a credit union in the 90s, and part of his job was to encourage members to keep their accounts secure – “don’t share your PIN, make sure people don’t see your PIN, and, really, don’t trust anyone with your PIN.
In fact, Martini says, in the early years, fraudsters would steal debit cards from mailboxes and come back seven to ten days later to pick up the piece of paper with the PIN code on them.
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Why banks are so secret about PIN codes
PIN codes are such a highly secure subject that financial institutions usually call customers or, in some cases, physically come to reset their PIN code.
“There is so much card fraud happening right now that financial institutions need to be very careful how they handle any type of security request,” adds Martini.
Also, bank representatives usually cannot access your PIN code, even if they want to. They aren’t boring because they think it’s stupid that you forgot your super important bank code. They can’t tell you what your PIN is because they really don’t know it.
The mechanics vary depending on the bank. Some allow you to reset your PIN through an app, but the more risk-averse “will require voice and verification and sending a standard PIN or a reset that takes a process to make sure you, the consumer, will not bear any kind of fraud in this transaction, ”says Martini.
Other providers can reset your PIN with a small machine in-house, but often times they can only change it to something generic – without telling you what it was.
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What to do if you forget your PIN
If you lose or forget your PIN and suspect that a criminal might be using it to access your account, Benda asks you to contact your bank immediately.
What you shouldn’t do is change your PIN to something easy to remember – it’s not secure. A data scientist analysis A few years ago 3.4 million PIN codes were leaked and he found that almost 11% of PIN codes were 1234. Another 6% were 1111. The 20 most popular PIN codes were also 0000, 1212 and 7777.
At the end of the line ? If used correctly, PIN codes are safe and financial institutions force people who forget them to jump through hoops for security reasons.
The landscape changes with the introduction of biometrics, which, according to Martini, “are definitely the way of the future”. ATMs will eventually start using fingerprints, face scans, and palm readings to verify your identity. But PIN codes are unlikely to go away anytime soon.
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