Why you should never reuse credit card PINs

By UK CreditCards.com

Sony's recent high-profile data breach has underlined the fragility of storing personal details securely, after the electronics giant lost 77m customer records in one of the largest ever online data breaches. Among the compromised data were usernames, email addresses, passwords, security prompts, credit card numbers and expiry dates.

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Now, consumers are being urged by experts to avoid using the same personal identification numbers (PINs) for all their credit and debit cards. According to credit agency Equifax, reusing such sensitive information can leave card users even more exposed to fraud and identity theft. 

An alarming number of consumers are reusing PINs and passwords, says Equifax
Equifax urges online shoppers to make sure they can see a padlock in their browser before submitting their card details, to ensure they are in a secure environment. It also recommends that people keep a note of all their online transactions and regularly check their bank statements.

The company has highlighted the results of a study it conducted in June 2010 in order to underscore the severity of online security breaches. Its research indicates that 32% of consumers are leaving themselves open to greater fraud risk by using between one and three PINs and passwords for all their financial accounts. This is because criminals who gain such personal details will usually try them against consumers' other accounts, on the off chance that they can gain easy access to further funds.

"Of course, we completely appreciate how difficult it is to remember a multitude of passwords and PINs, but we really do strongly encourage consumers to avoid keeping to just one or two," says Neil Munroe, an external affairs director at Equifax. 

How to protect yourself against online fraud
Credit card customers can minimise the chances of online fraud by ensuring that they use different PINs and passwords for each account. It is also a good idea to only shop on the websites of reputable companies and to monitor your statements to ensure fraudulent transactions are not being made. According to the UK Payments Administration, more than 33 million Brits regularly shop or bank online, with 40% doing both. It recommends that consumers store their cards securely and sign up to the Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode schemes whenever possible. These programmes allow customers to register an additional password with their card providers, which must then be supplied before transactions are processed by participating retailers. 

See related: Sony customers face further credit card privacy woesFraud figures show need for credit card security

Published: 12 May 2011