How to Keep Your Debit Card Number (PIN) Safe

Debit cards are very attractive to would-be thieves because immediate cash is always more desirable than goods on a credit card. Here are some simple steps to protect your PIN (personal identification number).

  • Never share the PIN with anyone. It might be tempting to trust a friend or a family member with your PIN but it is not a good idea. Circumstances can change and sometimes, people perceive a need more greatly than maintaining your trust. A person you do trust might be placed in a compromising position with a third party and be obliged to reveal your PIN under harassment or threat. It is better not to put this to the test.
  • Never give your PIN in response to email or telephone requests. Phishing scams are unsolicited emails asking for bank account details, passwords and PINs. Delete them without a second thought and never respond to them.
  • Never provide your PIN over the telephone; there is never a need to do this and it will always be a fraudulent request.
  • Shield your PIN when using the card. Use your hand, a checkbook or piece of paper to shield the PIN as you enter it into a bank or store machine. Be especially vigilant in store queues, where somebody may be paying more attention than you. Also, be wary of "card skimmers" at ATMs; they use scanners over the card slot to lift debit card details and they find your PIN with small cameras.
  • Choose a PIN that is not obvious. Your birth date, wedding anniversary, parts of your phone number and home address are obvious picks, think of numbers unrelated to major events and addresses in your life to create your PIN.
  • Don't use the same PIN for all your cards. Have a different PIN for each one, so that if you do happen to lose your wallet, it will be much harder for the PINs to be cracked.
  • Contact your bank immediately if your card is stolen or lost. Tell them if you think that there is anything that may compromise your PIN, such as an easy PIN, other ID in your wallet making it easy to work out or, horror of all horrors, the PIN being written down somewhere in the wallet or on the card. Get the bank to cancel the card immediately.
  • Be proactive. If you suspect any fraudulent activity using a card still in your possession, apart from notifying the bank and the police, have your PIN changed immediately.

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