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How important is to keep the ATM pin secure?

According to the new rules prescribed for credit and debit cards, all such cards must be chip enabled cards and they must only facilitate transactions with the four digits PIN. The four digit PIN number is your key to operating and swiping your debit and credit card. It has to be kept very safe and should not even be shared with your family members. Ideally, your entire family member should maintain their own PINs safely and securely. Your debit card PIN also doubles up as your ATM PIN which you use to withdraw cash from the dispensing machine. Let us look at how to keep your ATM PIN safe with some really practical and useful ATM PIN safety tips.

Firstly, what do we understand by PIN?
Personal identification number (PIN) is a security code for verifying your identity. It is almost like your password or like your OTP that you get on your mobile for any online transaction. PIN is normally a four digital password and you must make it a point to keep re-setting your PIN number at least once a month. Also don’t make it obvious codes like the year of birth or the DDMM of your birthday or of your spouse. Even marriage anniversaries are an easy give away. Keep a code that is hard to guess and make sure not to forget it. You can change your PIN either through the ATM machine or online on the internet itself. You can also given a written application for your PIN change or even use phone banking. Normally, for security and safety reasons, the PIN is never sent in the same mail along with the card. This ensures that the card and the PIN don’t fall into the wrong hands together. PINs are commonly used for financial transactions that are for withdrawing cash and for swiping the card at the POS. Normally, internet transactions may either rely on PIN or OTP or a combination of OTP, PIN and grid computing.

PINs are used for various transactions
Most of us believe that we only require a PIN for financial transactions like withdrawing cash, swiping the card etc. But PIN is useful in a number of other ways to authenticate you. Whether you are using the ATM or the internet, you can use PIN for various uses. For example, you can use the PIN to stop payment of a cheque, block an account, order for a new cheque book, change your address, change your phone number or email id etc. IN all these cases you can authenticate with your PIN. The PIN serves as a secondary form of verification. Anybody could have possession of your card, but only you should know the PIN that works with the card.

Keep the PIN confidential but also keep it accessible in a worst case scenario
Because the PIN authorizes you (or whoever knows it) to access sensitive information, it's essential to keep the number secret. Protect it, and never write it on your ATM or debit card—thieves know to look for four-digit codes written on the back of stolen cards. Some people use the same PIN for all their cards, unlocking their phones etc. That is not a good idea. Develop a specific logic for different PINs and apply. If you use the same PIN for everything then you are just compromising too much of your financial information. Don’t every share the PIN with any person who calls and claims to be a bank official.

Be careful whenever you are entering the PIN number
Unfortunately you always have to enter the PIN number at a public place like the ATM or at a POS shopping mall. How can maintain secrecy of your PIN? When you enter your PIN at an ATM or cash register, cover the keypad with your free hand so that nobody can see what you type in. Thieves can install hidden cameras on ATMs and other devices (like gas pumps) for recording PINs. If you want to be extra safe, touch some of the other keys after you enter your PIN to thwart heat-sensitive cameras.

Should I be using password managers while using multiple PINs
While password managers do simplify your job, it is not advisable. Instead, limit your active cards to just 2 or 3 so that you can easily keep track of the PINs. While a password manager may be secure, you don’t want to take chances with an unknown angel. You are better off with a known devil in this case. Password managers are better than a sticky note on your monitor or in your wallet. However, there is no alternative to creating a mental pattern and remembering your passwords / PINs.

What happens if you have forgotten your PIN?
It happens quite often to all of us. In case you feel you have forgotten the PIN, don’t keep trying permutations and combinations. After 4-5 attempts, the account and the card will be automatically blocked. Instead, you can apply to the issuer for a new PIN and till then you can use it offline. While in most cases, you are allowed to generate your new PIN online, there are other institutions who insist on mailing a new PIN to you separately.

PIN is an important access code to your debit or credit card. Keep it safe and use it securely. That is half the problem solved.

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