What is a PIN?

A Personal Identification Number (PIN) is a unique numeric personal code or password that is often linked with financial accounts. Banks and credit card companies use these numbers to obtain financial information, but they can also be found related to student loans, utility accounts, and other protected systems. The PIN usually has four digits which are known only to the account holder. When the account holder wishes to access the information, he or she can enter the number along with another type of identification information, such as a password, account card, or name.

Most consumers are familiar with PINs because they are used to access Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). A client inserts a credit card into an ATM, enters the number when asked, and then makes all the necessary account, deposit or withdrawal changes. By connecting the credit card with a PIN, the bank keeps the data it contains if the credit card is lost or stolen. Most banks automatically assign numbers to their customers, although they can also be set manually.

A PIN number is very useful for quick access to protect information. By assuming a consumer keeps it private, the number can be used to pay bills, check the balance, transfer funds, or perform a variety of other account transactions. Having one also means that the customer does not have to use their social security number as an identification tool. Since identity theft is a problem for many people, this alleviates some fears.

If a pin is randomly assigned, a customer should memorize it and destroy the policy with the number on it. If someone is worried about forgetting their PIN or wants other people to have access to it in an emergency, he or she could keep it in a safe place such as a safe or deposit along with other vital information. In no case should anyone carry the number with other account information, in case the person’s wallet is ever lost or stolen.

People who have the option to choose their PIN should try to get a random number. A telephone number, part of an assigned government identification number, or any other knowledge number should be avoided. People should avoid models, such as 5445 or 1234, because they are easier to guess than random number sequences. People who have difficulty choosing can decide to use a random number generator and remember to keep the number in a safe place if it is written down.

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