The Most and Least Common PINs: Is Yours on the List?

Secure Your PIN

By: Trevor Cooke, EarthWeb

Personal identification numbers (PINs) serve as gatekeepers to our online financial accounts, devices and sensitive information.

While the concept of a four-digit PIN may seem simple, with only 10,000 possible combinations, achieving true uniqueness can be a challenge. A weak or predictable PIN can leave you vulnerable to unauthorized access — making the choice of a strong, unique PIN crucial.

The Most Common PINs

According to data gathered from exposed password tables and security breaches — which detailed over 3.4 million four-digit PINs — the most common PINs often feature patterns that make them easy to remember but also easy to guess.

The top 10 most common PINs are:

  1. 1234
  2. 1111
  3. 0000
  4. 1212
  5. 7777
  6. 1004
  7. 2000
  8. 4444
  9. 2222
  10. 6969

These PINs often feature repeated digits, sequential numbers or significant dates, making them predictable and vulnerable to brute-force attacks.

A whopping 10.7% of the PINs collected were “1234”, while the top 3 PINs accounted for almost 20% of the total.

The Least Common PINs

According to the same data, the least commonly used 4-digit PIN is 8068, with just 25 occurrences out of the 3.4 million passwords examined — a minuscule 0.000744% frequency .

The 10 least popular 4-digit PINs found in the study’s dataset, starting with the least common, are:

  1. 8068
  2. 8093
  3. 8398
  4. 7638
  5. 8428
  6. 8285
  7. 7583
  8. 6835
  9. 8629
  10. 7539

These uncommon PINs lack obvious patterns, repetition or personal significance like birthdays or anniversaries that are common sources for more predictable PINs . Their random and unmemorable nature is likely what makes them some of the least frequently chosen combinations.

Remembering Unique PINs

While choosing a truly random PIN increases security, it can make the number difficult to recall. Here are some strategies to create memorable, yet unique, PINs.

Use the Word Method: Associate your PIN with a word by mapping the numbers to letters on a telephone keypad. For example, the word “SAFE” translates to the PIN “7233”. Choose an uncommon word that’s unlikely to be guessed.

Utilize Meaningful Dates: While avoiding easily guessable dates like birthdays or anniversaries, you can still use a meaningful date as your PIN, such as the day you adopted a pet or the date of your first date with your partner. Combine or alter the numbers to make it more unique.

Create Patterns or Acronyms: Develop a pattern or acronym that is meaningful to you but obscure to others. For instance, use the first letters of a favorite quote or the numeric pattern of your childhood street address reversed.

Use Long PINs: Many systems allow longer PINs beyond 4 digits. The more digits your PIN has, the harder it is for anyone to crack. Use a secure password manager to store lengthy, random PINs.

Modify an Existing PIN: Take a commonly used PIN and modify it slightly by adding, subtracting, or rearranging some digits to make it unique while still somewhat memorable.

The key is finding a balance between randomness and personal relevance to create a PIN that is both secure and easy to recall. Avoid obvious choices and never use the same PIN across multiple accounts.

Increase Security with Your PIN Choice

Cybersecurity experts emphasize the importance of choosing a unique PIN that avoids common patterns or personal information.

A strong PIN should be treated with the same level of care as a password, as it serves as a critical line of defense against unauthorized access. Regularly updating your PIN and avoiding the use of the same PIN across multiple accounts can further enhance your security.

As data breaches and identity theft become ever-present threats, taking proactive measures to protect your sensitive information is crucial.

By choosing a unique and strong PIN, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals and safeguard your personal and financial well-being,

About the Author: Trevor Cooke is the online privacy expert at EarthWeb. His personal mission is to help keep consumers safe by keeping them informed of privacy tips and common online scams.