Many people worry about the safety of their personal PIN numbers but many of us still maintain a rather blasé attitude to our credit card and bank card pin numbers. After all our cards are on us all the time so it’s fairly unlikely that anyone will be able to steal them and then guess your pin…..right?

Well actually no.

Credit card fraud is rising dramatically and someone doesn’t actually need your exact card to defraud your credit card or bank account. No, all they need is your credit card number and a few personal details. See these days criminals have wonderful technology which can clone your card in a matter of minutes. If they can then crack your pin they have free reign to use your credit card until you notice. This can lead to long term credit problems so it is worth being incredibly secure with your details.

But how can they crack your pin?

Well a standard pin number is only 4 digits long. This gives a fairly small number of possible combinations of just 10,000. That doesn’t take a computer that long to actual break. However, what is more worrying is how many of us are actually using the same pin numbers. A research project that looked at 3.4 million pins was recently reported in the guardian. The project found that 10.7% of people use the pin number 1234. At the same time the pin 1111 is used by just over 6% of card holders and 0000 by nearly 2%. The ten most common numbers people use for their credit pins make up a staggering 23.46% of all credit card numbers. So any thief with this information has a fairly high chance of guessing your pin within 10 attempts. Most credit cards will let you have three attempts before they block your pin. So if I stole your credit card and tried the three most common numbers I would have almost a 1 in 5 chance of getting your details correct! This shows just how easy it really can be for people to walk away with your money and cause you a lot of problems.

So What do You Need to Do?

Credit cards and debut cards are, unfortunately, fairly vulnerable. Though your actual money is protected fraud often causes long and short term problems for people. If you have one of these common pin numbers then you should change it as soon as possible to make life a lot harder for criminals. However, most of all you should be careful where you use your credit and debit cards and how you use them. One of the biggest causes of credit card theft is giving away your credit card numbers to unscrupulous people – accidentally of course! Online websites offering discount products, trial services, or needing credit card verification are often a clear sign of phishing websites. Emails asking you to verify your credit details are equally problematic for most people. At the same time we are seeing a rise in bogus phone calls and letters from banks, creditors and other fraudsters asking for you to “confirm” your credit details. Never give away this information to anyone unless you have directly phoned the bank or company in question from their website details! At the same time before you shop online be sure to check that companies are legitimate, that they are registered as a company and that they have concrete premises. While not 100% fool proof these strategies will help you to avoid most risks with debit and credit cards.