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How to Pick Secure PINs and Passcodes

Vanessa here from AllClear ID.  What’s your iPhone password or bank PIN? If it’s 1234, 0000, a vertical row like 2580, or your birth date, you’re far from the only one. According to Daniel Amitay, a developer of iPhone apps, 15 percent of iPhone’s four-number passcodes come from just one of 10 common combinations.
So it’s time to change those four digits quick – across everywhere that you use them, from ATMs to your iPhone. But how can you make a 4 digit number more secure? Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’t’s for creating a super-strong numeric password and keeping it secure

  • Select a number memorable enough for you to remember but difficult for others to get. For instance, the day you got your favorite dog or your SAT math score would hold significance for you but it wouldn’t show up in your records.
  • Use a random four-letter word and figure out what numbers it translates into. For example, “sock” translates on your mobile phone keypad into  ‘7625,’ which doesn’t follow any specific pattern.
  • Do use the “cellphone friend” strategy for remembering a PIN (recording it in your phone under a fictitious friend’s name plus some extra numbers)– but only if you can memorize it or have a backup record in case your phone gets stolen.
  • Do beware of shoulder surfers when entering your PIN to unlock your phone in public, and if entering your PIN to make debit card transactions at the gas station and stores.  Watch out for suspicious objects at the ATM, and report anything unusual to your bank.


  • Don’t choose a year, like your birthday or anniversary, for you or other family members. Anyone who is able to access your personal information can easily pick up these significant dates and use them as first options when trying out your phone or ATM card.
  • Don’t use any other numbers that give information about you, such as your phone number, license plate number or Social Security number
  • Don’t repeat numbers, like 1111, or choose something that goes in order, such as, 1234, 6789, 2468, etc., as they too can easily be guessed.
  • Don’t let anyone else know what it is. If you need to do so for some emergency reason, be sure to change your PIN as soon as possible.
  • Don’t write down your PIN on documents that you often carry around, in your wallet, and especially not on your ATM or credit card. That’s all someone needs to clean out your bank account.
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