Don’t write that PIN down

Did you know that for many financial institutions, simply writing down your debit card’s PIN number or sharing your password with a trusted person is a loophole that could relieve them of responsibility of covering your losses if your account is compromised?

I recently received a new debit card that came with a PIN number a few digits different from my old PIN number. That meant there was no hope I was going to remember the correct sequence. If it weren’t for the trouble a friend had a few years ago, I would have been tempted to just write the new PIN number down somewhere safe, perhaps inside my checkbook register.

That’s exactly what a friend of mine did. A few months later, she realized her entire savings account had been drained. She told the bank quite innocently that she had her security number written down, not realizing that her admission alleviated the bank from replacing her stolen funds. She was out several hundred dollars.

Even doing simple things that I know I do all the time, like sending my teenager to the store with my debit card and PIN number to grab a missing ingredient I need for dinner, is technically against the rules. I’m also guilty of sticking my card in my coat pocket when I get gas instead of immediately putting it securely back in my wallet. Then later, I panic because I can’t find it. That card isn’t just a convenience to us, but also can be an easy way for criminals to gain access our accounts.

We all know about safety tips when we’re checking out in a store, or visiting an ATM machine for quick cash, but it’s also easy to give in to our own busy schedules and take shortcuts. Keeping your account protected is worth the extra hassles, though. I suggest you request a new PIN from your bank if you’re worried that yours has been compromised, or even if you are having trouble remembering it. That’s what I did; it was as painless as a trip to the local branch. Now my PIN is something I can easily remember and I don’t need to write it down! And don’t hesitate to ask your bank if you’re allowed to write down your PIN before it’s too late.

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