I recommend a system that stores a list of your passwords and PIN numbers in your wallet. And, no, I'm not crazy.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Keep track of all your passwords and PIN numbers safely

June 3, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, The Post-Standard

   Do you have a hard time remembering all the passwords you use on Internet sites? What about those PIN numbers you keep forgetting? There's got to be a better way.
   And there is. It won't cost a cent.
   My method takes advantage of a little known fact of Internet safety: If you store something on your PC in hopes of hiding it from snoopers or from your kids, both the snoopers and your kids will find it in no time flat. (I realize I sound a little facetious, but hackers and 14-year-olds are much more savvy than you might think.)
   So I recommend a system that stores a list of your passwords and PIN numbers in your wallet.
   Have I lost my mind? Not at all. Here's what I recommend. First, you encode your passwords and PIN numbers by creating fake (but plausible) addresses and phone numbers out of them. Then you hide them in plain sight, right where you normally keep such things. No one will assume they're actually something other than items in an address list.
   Start by collecting your Web-site passwords into a normal list, for your eyes only. (You should delete or burn this list later. Don't keep it around.)
   If you also have different login names, you'll need to write them down, too, matched with the passwords. Here's an example: I have a couple of Web-mail accounts that I use now and then. To access the first one, I have to type my first and last names, put together into one word. Then I type a password. To get into the second one, I have to type a cute little catch-phrase. (Well, it was cute when I thought of it. Don't be too hard on me.) Then I type a password that's different from the one I use on the first account.
   Then collect your PIN numbers. Write down the bank name and the number.
   Now do a little creative manipulation of your data. Start with the logins and passwords. They're designed to be powerful reminders without giving the information away. Turn each login name into part of an address, like this: The login name "delseym" could become "Delsey St, near Main" and the password "del146" could become "Deltona 146xx (forgot rest of zip)." Just like that.
   The full address entry would look like this:
      Marianne Martin
      Delsey St., near Main
      Deltona 146xx (forgot rest of zip)

   Notice that the name is always fake. Make it sound real, but don't use a real name.
   Here's how I'd "encode" the login-password entry jparker 23coolguy:
      John Riscznack
      Cool Guy Air-Conditioning Repair
      23j Parker Apts
      Homestead, FL

   PIN numbers are more fun, especially if you like playing with math. Take the four numbers and subtract them from 9999. Suppose your PIN number is 6903. Subtracting it from 9999 produces 3096. Write that number down as part of a phone number in your address list. When you need to remember the real PIN number, simply subtract the number you saved from 9999.
   (If you're as mathematically challenged as I sometimes am -- usually, in the morning, before I've had my coffee -- let me explain that the arithmetic operation is simply a difference value. Find the difference between, say, 1234 and 9999, and store that number (8765). Later, to find the real PIN number, you look for the difference between that number and 9999, and it has to be the PIN number.)
   Put a copy of this highly valuable address list in your wallet. Crumple it many times to make it look old. Put another copy in a drawer somewhere in case you lose your wallet.