What actually happens if you enter the PUK incorrect?

The personal identification number (PIN) and the personal unlocking key (PUK) protect the SIM card from unauthorized access – but what is the difference and what happens if you enter the PUK incorrect?

Who hasn’t had the problem before: Forgot your PIN, entered it incorrectly three times in the confusion and then spent hours looking for the PUK in the documents in order to unlock the SIM card after all. But what do the abbreviations PIN and PUK actually stand for and what can you do if you forget both codes?

PIN: Personal Identification Number

The PIN is a numerical code that is stored on the SIM card. It can be between 4 and 8 characters long and, if this function is activated, will be requested when the mobile phone is started in order to enable the SIM card . The factory-set PIN for the SIM card can be changed at any time by the user in the phone settings, so that it is sometimes easier to remember. This is important because if users enter the PIN incorrectly three times in a row, the SIM card is blocked and it can only be reactivated with a PUK.

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What actually happens if you enter the PUK incorrect?

PUK: Personal Unlocking Key

The PUK – sometimes also referred to as Personal Unlocking Code (PUC) or Super PIN – is required to make the SIM card functional again after you have entered the PIN incorrectly three times. In Germany, the PUK is usually recorded in the same place as the PIN in the SIM documents. In some other countries, however, the network providers only send it to the user on request and after verification. Some providers have now also stored the PUK online in the customer center. After entering the PUK, a new PIN must be assigned. If the PUK is entered incorrectly ten times in a row, the SIM card is permanently and irrevocably blocked. The SIM card is therefore unusable and must be replaced with a new one at a cost.

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Anyone who has lost the documents with the PUK can, for example, call customer service to find out. Most network providers, including Vodafone, O2 and Telekom, also enable the PUK to be queried via the corresponding Internet portal.

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