Credit card fraud costs the UK payment industry over £400 million every year – stolen cards and identity fraud cause distress to card holders and the cost is more often than not taken by the credit card companies.


A similar situation was faced by the French about 10 years ago and to solve it they introduced “Chip and PIN” technology – a small chip, with a memory of about 1Kb embedded into the credit card that enables the user to verify the payment through use of a four digit “PIN” (personal identification number).


We in the UK have finally caught up and September saw the mass introduction of chip and pin technology. You may well see waiters walking around with mini verification keypads and in shops you may well have them thrust in front of you instead of being asked for your signature.


But what’s your PIN? Taking cash out on credit cards has historically been extremely expensive (often with interest rates above 20%) – in the past this has been the only reason to know your PIN for your credit card. Now, not knowing your PIN could prove embarrassing.


Fear not. Retrieving your number is straight forward, but first it’s probably worth checking whether your card is compatible. If your card is more than 12 months old then there’s a fair chance it won’t be Chip and PIN friendly – it may have a chip, but not necessarily one formatted in the required way.


Most credit cards, and banks now allow you to request or view your PIN online. You may have to register for online access and get a special password or username. Alternatively a call to your bank will enable them to send you a copy of your PIN in the post. Again, depending on the company some may insist on generating a new version rather than sending the old one as a way to avoid fraud.


Once you have your PIN you should be able to change it to something memorable. Writing down an obscure PIN is as bad as not having one – if your wallet or bag is stolen then you’ve given the PIN over as well.


If in doubt, give your card provider a call – if your card is not compatible they should be able to send you a new one at no extra cost.