Each year about 7 percent of Americans have their debit cards hacked or stolen and 10% fall victim to credit card fraud. The result is more than $5.5 billion in theft attributed to credit card fraud each year. One of the safeguards between would-be thieves and your bank account are four little numbers, a.k.a. your PIN. Choosing those numbers is of the utmost importance in protecting your assets, but, as it turns out, many Americans are using the same PINs, making them vulnerable to hacking.
A new study from DataGenetics, shows that credit and debit card thieves are able to successfully guess more than 25 percent of stolen card PINs within 20 attempts. Why are hackers able to crack a PIN in 20 guesses out of a possible 10,000 combinations? To answer that question, researchers combed the Internet for account numbers and PINs exposed by data breaches and studied the PIN numbers people chose. As it turns out, many people use numeric sequences like “1234” or “1111” as their PINs, which makes them vulnerable to hacking. Other popular choices for PINs include birth years, the same digit repeated four times and years made famous by a movie title such as 2012.
Here are the top 10 most-used PINs, according to the DataGenetics study. Because of their popularity, these PINs are, by default, also the least safe ones:
The best PINs are random numbers that have no special significance for the account holder. For what it’s worth, DataGenetics found that the least-used PIN is “8068,” although the number of people using that PIN should rise significantly since this study was published.