Sharing Your PIN: Just Don’t Do It

August 1, 2019


The scenario begins innocently: you’re too sick or tired to leave the house – or perhaps you’re just feeling especially generous – and you give a significant other, relative or close friend the PIN and permission to use your debit card. It seems harmless at the time, and in many cases, it is.

But the scenario can quickly go from harmless to harmful.

No one likes to contemplate the possibility, but unfortunately, there are times when a close personal relationship breaches your trust. And, if you’ve voluntarily shared your PIN, things get even more complicated.

Not many people know that voluntarily sharing their PIN removes the legal protections for unauthorized charges. If you lose your debit card, or if someone involuntarily compromises your card, you’re protected. But, if the person with whom you shared your PIN spends more than was agreed to, or withdraws money without your knowledge, you can still be liable for all of the charges.

It gets worse. Because debit cards are connected directly to your checking or savings account, the funds may be gone within 24 hours, long before you even realize what happened.

So, what are the alternatives?

If you’d like our advice, the least-risky option is to not to grant others access to your account, period. It’s simply the best way to prevent unauthorized transactions.

Those who truly value the convenience of shared account access and are willing to accept some risk can consider adding an authorized user to their debit card. Just be sure to keep these important things in mind:

  • You can set daily limits on how much an authorized user can spend or withdraw, but they still have access to all the funds in the account.
  • Primary cardholders are still responsible for charges incurred by an authorized user – even if he or she racks up the charges without your consent.
  • You can remove an authorized user at any time without limiting your own access to the account.
Bottom line, make sure anyone who has access to your account is worthy of your trust. Contact Bank Iowa if you need help determining the best way to configure your account access.