Guide to PINs

It is important to keep the four digit personal identification number (PIN) related to any credit and debit card safe, but what can you do to ensure your PIN is kept as secure as possible? And what do you do if you lose your PIN number, or need to change it? The following guide might help answer those questions.

Keeping your PIN secure

There are many things to consider when it comes to PIN security. Upon receiving your notification letter containing your new PIN, try to memorise the number as soon as possible and destroy the letter. Never write down your PIN nor keep it in your purse or wallet with your debit or credit card, and make sure to shred any statements you don’t want to keep before putting them in the bin.

Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe – Protect Your PIN*
- Never share your PIN with anyone - the only times you should use your PIN is at a cash machine or in a shop.
- Ensure you are the only person that knows your PIN. Your bank or the police will never phone you and ask you to disclose it.
- Your bank will never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone.
- Your bank or the police will never ring you and tell you that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.
- When entering your PIN into a cash machine at a point of sale, use your free hand and your body to shield the number, in case fraudsters have installed a hidden camera or are watching you over your shoulder. If you think someone has seen your PIN you can change it at a cash machine or by contacting your bank.

What if you forget your PIN?

There’s no need to panic if you forget your PIN - your card issuer will be able to provide you with a new one, usually within five working days. A contact phone number can usually be found on the back of your card underneath the signature strip. If the PIN belonged to the card you normally use in cash machines, your bank may be able to provide you with cash until you receive your new PIN, subject to you confirming your identity. If visiting a branch, you will probably be asked to present the following documentation when requesting money:

  • your bank card
  • photographic identification
  • proof of your name and address, such as a utility bill or a recent payslip

Changing your PIN

You might want to change your PIN to something easier for you to remember or simply for security reasons. Many cash machines offer customers the option to change PINs. As always, try to be vigilant while using the machine and make sure no one sees you entering your new PIN.

When changing your PIN, try to avoid using numbers that could be easily guessed or known by other people, such as your birthday or combinations like ‘1111’ or ‘1234’.

For a more thorough look at credit cards, please see our guide to credit cards explained.

*Taken from Fraud the Facts 2014, produced by Financial Fraud Action.

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