Sam Dunn: Having trouble at the check-out? Let Lou and Andy help

As queues go, it was pretty hostile. Shoppers hissed with irritation and children bawled their impatience. Staff tried to calm everyone down, but they too were annoyed at the hapless customer who was causing the blockage.

His crime? He had forgotten the personal identification number (pin) for his credit card. After much huffing and two failed attempts to remember, he gave up. (A third mistake, and his card would have been disabled.) Muttering something earthy, he walked off empty-handed.

Failing to remember your pin is more than a social faux pas, however. It's a serious problem for many consumers, and can hinder routine shopping and banking transactions. It can force you to leave your shopping at the store, or even lead to your card being frozen.

Remembering a sequence of four numbers may not sound too difficult, but complications have emerged since the rollout of chip and pin machines across Britain's high streets in January. The technology was introduced to reduce card fraud (see page 21), but it has led to problems for thousands of ordinary people. In particular, the elderly - many of whom have in the past received their pensions over a post office counter using a passbook - have struggled to cope with the new system. Benefits must now be paid into their bank accounts, forcing many older people to use a personal identification number for the first time in their lives.

Those who carry a handful of credit and debit cards can also run into trouble remembering pin numbers, not to mention the security numbers needed for online and telephone banking.

The solution is not to write the pin down and keep it in your wallet. If your card is lost or stolen and a criminal can use it because your number was easy to find, you'll probablybe liable for any fraudulent purchases.

For those with wallets stuffed with different cards, one oft-touted way to make life simple is to keep the same pin for each. This should work well as long as you keep your number secret; but if a thief were to steal your bag containing all your cards and a diary, it will be quite simple for him to try your date of birth as the pin. If he is right, all your accounts will be open to plunder until you cancel the cards, but you will at least be covered for the fraud.

Passionate England football fans may look back proudly on the World Cup triumph of 1966, but they should avoid using 1-9-6-6 as their pin. Banks have warned that any such memorable date could make it easier for fraudsters to use your cards.

The Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) - the body behind chip and pin - doesn't officially approve of using the same pin for various cards because it allows crooks to unlock lots of accounts in one fell swoop. But it concedes that it's better than writing a number down.

For those struggling to remember a pin, Apacs recommends memory tricks. These include taking a phrase involving a favourite TV programme, such as "I love Little Britain", and using the number of letters in each word for your pin (in this example, 1-4-6-7).

Make every effort to remember your pin but, as Christmas shopping takes off in earnest, remember that keeping it secret should be your priority.

News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor