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10% of ATM pin numbers use same combination: Study

Stockhouse Editorial
0 Comments| August 1, 2013

1234 might be easy for you to remember when you swipe your debit card at the grocery store, but it also makes stealing your identity ridiculously easy, according to a study just released.

Out of 10,000 possible four-digit combinations, a quarter of all card users rely on one of 20, with 10.7% of all 3.4 million numbers studied using the exact same pin.

Why this matters is, an identity thief only gets so many tries to guess your pin number before your account is frozen. If that pin number is on the list below, there’s a good chance he or she will empty your chequing account before you know it.

The most common combo? Perhaps no surprise: 1234, followed by 1111 (6.0%) and 0000 (1.8%).

The top ten pin number combinations, according to the study, are as follows:
  1. 1234
  2. 1111
  3. 0000
  4. 1212
  5. 7777
  6. 1004
  7. 2000
  8. 4444
  9. 2222
  10. 6969

Others that rank highly include 1984 (apparently some ATM users don’t like that big camera lens pointing at them as they pay their utilities bill), 2001 (“I really think you should change your passcode, Dave…”, and a nod to James Bond: 0070.

There are other interesting finds in the data: For example, 22nd spot on the rankings is 2580, which is the four buttons down the middle of the keypad. Birthday years also appear often, and pins tend to start with a 1, 0 or 2 way more often than a 7, 8 or 9. Even numbers far outweigh odd numbers.

17% of all numbers were repeated pairs, such as 1414 or 9393.

Despite ongoing efforts from banks, such as Toronto Dominion (T.TD, NYSE: TD, Stock Forum) to warn customers of the dangers of bank fraud, billions of dollars every year are lost to nefarious use of debit and credit cards.

The safest pin combination, at least before this study was released, was 8068, the least used of all possibilities with just 25 occurrences in 3.4 million results. 2nd safest is 8093, then 9629.

You might suggest using pin numbers with more digits would make them safer, and that’s true. Kind of.

Analysis of five digit numbers showed 22% used 12345. 7 digit numbers brought better results with the top result (1234567) only showing 3.4% of the time (people using their phone numbers for 7-digit numbers being the suggested explanation), but blow it out to a nine-digit pin and a whopping 35.2% of all pin numbers are 123456789.

#17 on the ten-digit list? 3141592654: The first 9 numbers of Pi. Go science.

Now, go change your passcode.

-Chris Parry,


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