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Protecting your PIN number

By Steve Katz, Editor | January 6, 2014

Stratus Packaging’s award-winning IXcode system can deter would-be thieves.

Thieves and fraudsters are increasingly resourceful in finding new ways to gain access to PIN (Personal Identification Number) code numbers. This type of theft recently made headlines during the busy holiday season, when Target, a leading retailer based in Minneapolis, MN, USA, announced that, during a massive security beach, encrypted customer PIN numbers were stolen.

PIN number theft has serious consequences for those victimized, particularly debit card holders, as thieves who gain access to card numbers and the corresponding PINs could drain their bank accounts.

Stratus Packaging Group, a label converter headquartered in France, has patented its new IXcode system to take on scratch-off pin code security. A recipient of the award for innovation at the FINAT International Label Competition, Stratus Packaging’s IXcode label employs a novel variation on the system involving the usage of silver inks over the printed PIN number that the customer needs to scratch off to display the PIN.

Often employed by banks, this system – using inks to cover the PIN – is vulnerable to PIN code theft through, for example, heating the scratch-off inks to make the number visible. Such activity is not possible with Stratus Packaging’s IXcode. The technology centered on making a substantial change to the structure of the label laminate that contains the PIN number and anchors it to the base document. One of the laminate components constitutes what Stratus called a stretchable “tongue,” which is then covered by tiny particles of black ink. By stretching the tongue, the customer can make the PIN number appear as the tiny ink particles are dispersed and disappear. The stretchable material, however, will not shrink back to its original state, and cannot be replaced, so ready evidence of tampering is available to the customer. The complex laminate – which involved extensive testing of different materials, adhesives and inks and more than 100 hours of trials – effectively deters the efforts of the PIN code thieves by making it impossible to conceal the fact that the label has been previously disturbed.

“One of our specialties at Stratus Packaging is in creating practical, effective labeling solutions within the security and traceability segment – which include tamper-evident seals, RFID labels, and the use of security inks,” explains Isidore Leiser, CEO of Stratus Packaging. “We developed the original IX-code concept and designs for a customer partner, and today we produce them under exclusive mandate for the same partner, who is the owner of the patent.”

To view how the IXcode works, go to

Stratus Packaging Group's IXcode System. 

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