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Security Tip - PIV Personal Identification Number (PIN) Tips

The PIN for your PIV card is a six (6) to eight (8) digit number known only by the cardholder and used to authenticate a cardholder’s identity. Your PIV card (something you have) and PIN (something you know) are key elements of multi-factor security and are used to access government resources and perform other functions (e.g., digital signatures) via the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates. Your agency's logical or physical access systems may require the PIN to unlock the PIV card before you can successfully authenticate to the IT system. 

PIN Best Practices

When creating your PIN, it is recommended that you:

  • Select a PIN that cannot be easily guessed (i.e., do not use birth date, partial account numbers, sequential numbers like 1234, or repeated values such as 1111). 
  • Null/blank values are not permitted in accordance with federal guidance. 
  • Memorize your PIN. Do not write it on your PIV card, a post-it note or on a piece of paper attached to your monitor or in your wallet. 
  • Do not use your PIN as a password for other IT services, either government or personal, such as your email or bank account.

Safeguarding Your PIN

The PIN should be kept secure at all times even though it requires someone to also have physical control of your card. Because of the risk to your agency and you, it is critical that you never share your PIN with anyone, including trusted co-workers, subordinates, or superiors. Doing so will expose you to fraud and identity impersonation. USAccess recommends the following:

  • Be aware of others that may be nearby when using your PIN. Observing the PIN you enter is the first step in compromising your identity.
  • If you believe that your credential has been tampered with, lost or stolen, report it immediately to your agency's Security Officer.

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