Have you ever been on the phone with customer service and when they asked you for your Secure PIN, you totally blanked out? You’re not alone. While passwords take the main stage when it comes to accessing accounts and security, PINs are important too. These short and sweet codes are an important part of protecting your private information, but many people find them hard to keep track of. That’s why we’re sharing these pointers for creating and remembering effective PINs.

What is a PIN?

First, let’s discuss what is the difference between a password and a PIN. A PIN, short for Personal Identification Number, is a numerical code set up to allow you to authenticate your identity and allow access to secure accounts such as banking, credit cards, or cell phones. In this era where identity theft and computer fraud has become prevalent, many people make the mistake of creating overly complicated or random PINs when they first set up an account, causing headaches down the road when it’s time to access them later.

How to create a secure PIN

TIP #1: Don’t be obvious. When it comes to creating a secure PIN, the first tip is to avoid the obvious. Never use basic combinations such as “1234” or “9876” and also avoid using numbers such as your house address, birthdays, or anniversaries.

TIP #2: Use the word method. PINs are numbers, but it can make it much easier to remember yours if you associate it with a word. Look at your phone keypad, choose a 4-letter word, and see what number coordinates with that word. For instance, the word “SAFE” would be “7233.” If you use this method, it’s best to use a less common word that’s unlikely to be guessed by someone.

TIP #3: Dates will work too. If words don’t work for you, it’s ok to select a date as your PIN, just make sure it’s not easy to guess. Ideas include things like first date anniversaries, the day you adopted your pet, or a mishmash of your kid’s or parent’s birthdays.

TIP #4: Store it safely. If you really want to be safe, you can create a very random, extra-long PIN and store it securely. To keep track of it, you can use a secure tool to store and manage passwords, such as LastPass or 1Password. This is also helpful for keeping track of different PINs for different accounts. Just like with creating strong passwords, it’s never a good idea to use the same PIN for all of your accounts. (See “How to Create Strong Passwords” for more tips.)

Protecting your personal information is important and having secure PINs you can remember is a big part of that. In this age where business and life are being conducted more and more online, it’s necessary to be as vigilant in your activities online as you would be in the real world. Good password and PIN behavior and diligence managing your accounts is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. If you suspect an account might have been hacked, please read this article for a checklist of what to do: “Tips to Avoid Identity Theft Online.” And for any questions about your Softcom account security or help with passwords give us a call at (800) 982-7675 or 1 (888) 4-SOFTCOM, we’re here to help.