What are the most common pin codes?

Do you remember when you got your first bank card? In that moment when the teller asked you to set your four digit PIN, did you come up with a combination of four numbers that was both highly personalised and impossible to guess? Or did you press “1111” – a solution so deviously simple you couldn’t believe you were the first?

Whichever it was – you were not alone. The digits 0 through to 9 can form 10,000 unique combinations. This might sound like a lot, but Finder1 reports that in Australia alone there are over 40 million active debit card accounts and a little less than 20 million active credit card accounts. Statistically speaking, around 6 thousand people are using the same PIN as you.

Nick Berry, a Facebook data scientist published a report on his blog DataGenetics, which analysed 3.4 million PINs looking for patterns to help promote the importance of using secure passwords. Here is what he found:

The most common PINs ever?

Berry revealed that there was one four digit PIN that was far more common than all others – 1234. It’s extremely easy to remember, relatively quick to enter, and accounts for almost 11 per cent of the sample group. That 11 per cent accounts for approximately 374,000 uses of that combination.

Next on the list was the aforementioned 1111. Again, this PIN is almost impossible to forget, and takes even less time to enter into a machine than 1234. 1111 was used in slightly more than 6 per cent of sampled PINs, or 204,000 uses.

Sitting at 1.8 and 1.1 percent respectively, 0000 and 1212 came in at third and fourth place. These both account for over 34,000 individual uses each. The remaining 16 of the top 20 most popular passwords appear in the following order:

  • 7777 at 0.74 per cent
  • 1004 at 0.61 per cent
  • 2000 at 0.61 per cent
  • 4444 at 0.52 per cent
  • 2222 at 0.51 per cent
  • 6969 at 0.52 per cent
  • 9999 at 0.45 per cent
  • 3333 at 0.41 per cent
  • 5555 at 0.39 per cent
  • 6666 at 0.39 per cent
  • 1122 at 0.36 per cent
  • 1313 at 0.34 per cent
  • 8888 at 0.30 per cent
  • 4321 at 0.29 per cent
  • 2001 at 0.29 per cent
  • 1010 at 0.28 per cent

If you’ve spotted your pin on the above list then A) we promise not to tell anyone, and B) it might be time for a change. Statistically speaking, 20 PIN numbers should only represent 0.2 per cent of the 10,000 possible options. Yet these top 20 numbers account for an alarming 26.83 per cent of Berry’s sample. These numbers imply that one in four people are using one of these passwords, and that it would take no more than 20 attempts to figure out those people’s PINs.

What was the least popular PIN?

It turns out the least popular PIN number was 8068. If you’re completely underwhelmed by that People generally don’t know this, but in fact, it’s because it’s a sound choice. It doesn’t represent an easy pathway across a numeric keypad (on a computer keyboard or a phone), it isn’t a birthday, and there’s no inherent mnemonic to this number. 8068 appeared only 25 times in the entire study, which is significantly less frequent than can be predicted by random distribution. Now that we’ve established that, please do not change your PIN to 8068. Berry’s research has been well read, even by hackers (always be aware of scams), so chances are 8068 might be in the top 20 most common next time.

How do I come up with a good PIN?

The key to a good PIN for your credit or debit card is that it’s easy for you to remember, but not easy for other people to figure out. This means your birth year, or your birthday isn’t best. The date of a less significant event could work, for example the date you got the keys to your current house, or an anniversary with a loved one. One common suggestion is to pick a four letter word, and from there figure out what the associated numbers are and make that your PIN. In this case, avoid names of family or friends and focus on something less significant: Fish, Race, Tune – something strangers will find difficult to associate with you.

How important is password security?

Having a strong PIN is very important. Berry noted that his sample came from databases where leaked information is published. This means that the data he used actually came from a data breach and was shared by cybercriminals. Berry notes that the data he attained is useless on its own, but this does highlight the seriousness of the issue. Ofcom, a UK communications watchdog, recently reported that 55 per cent of people use the same password or PIN for every account.

To stay safe, you only need to be smart. Don’t use obvious PINs or passwords, and try to give every card or account its own unique security code. If you need to change your PIN, you can do this via Internet Banking, the App or visiting your local Branch. If you’d like to know more about secure banking, contact Beyond Bank.