Millions leave banking details open to burglars

Burglars target PINs, passwords and documents they can sell to identity thieves

Updated: 
Millions leave banking details open to burglars

Around two million of us leave written versions of our debit and credit card PINs in plain sight around the house, according to a new study from Churchill Home Insurance.

It should be no surprise then that in interviews conducted with convicted burglars on behalf of the insurer, the crooks said that they actively look out for PINs when they break into a property.

Playing fast and loose with your PIN

Around 13% of us who create a copy of a PIN will leave it somewhere unsecure in the house, the survey revealed. A staggering 10% will keep it in their wallet or purse, an awful move that risks an empty bank account should it be stolen.

Almost a quarter (23%) hide it in a secure location, such as a safe.

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Our favourite hiding places

While many play fast and loose with their PINs, thankfully plenty of us do hide away our valuable documents (things like mortgage documents, bank details and passports).

Here are our favourite hiding places according to Churchill:

Top five places we stash valuable documents:

1. Underwear or sock drawers

2. Food container (such as cereal or in fridge-freezer)

3. Books

4. Loft

5. Taped to the bottom of drawers

However, burglars are getting smart to this too. One burglar interviewed by Churchill said he always checks the fridge and freezer, looking in "old fish finger boxes in the fridge...that is the first place you look for something they don't want you to find".

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Document theft

Burglars have left behind the days where they only looked to steal jewellery or electronic goods. Nowadays they are on the hunt for PINs, passports and documents they can sell on to identity thieves.

"We would look for paperwork and ID to sell on," one burglar admitted. "You would look for paperwork for mortgages and passports and sell it on to those in the know."

Pointless passwords

If you have gone to the trouble of password protecting your laptop, mobile phone or tablet, it may well have been a waste of time. Churchill's interviews with burglars found that passwords are a feeble deterrent.

"If you have a laptop you do not need to worry because you can just press two keys and wipe the hard drive or just replace the hard drive depending on how valuable it was," said one burglar. Another stated that he could get laptops unlocked for as little as £10 a time.

A far better way to deter thieves is to register Apple devices with the 'Find my device' service so that they can be traced. Alternatively, investing in forensic property marking will put off burglars.

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