According to a report from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), an estimated 17.6 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2014. The good news is that 85 percent of Americans also took actions to prevent identity theft, such as changing passwords on financial accounts.
With so many online apps and services, we can accumulate all kinds of usernames and passwords. Of course, the trouble with passwords is that we can easily forget them. Many people create passwords that are easy to remember, such as their spouse’s name or their child’s birth date. Hackers can easily discover this information and use it to steal your identity and more.
Tips to Keep Passwords Safe and Secure
Here are four helpful tips to keep your passwords safe and secure:
- Keep your passwords to yourself. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to not share your passwords with other people. If you have to write them down, make sure you store the list in a secret, private place. (That means not on a post-it note under your keyboard!)
- Create passwords based on easy phrases you can remember. You can use the first letter of each word and substitute symbols for certain words or letters (like ‘@’ for ‘at’ or ‘$’ for ‘s’). If you use the phrase “I got married at city hall in 1975,” your password could look like “Igm@chi1975”. This method can help produce a complex password that’s more secure.
- Use a different password for each account. If one of your accounts was compromised, at least hackers won’t be able to get to your other accounts.
- Change your passwords often. Set reminders to change your passwords at least once every 60 days, and don’t reuse them for at least a year.
Remember, a strong, complex password is your first line of defense and may help protect you from a security breach that could cause a major disruption to your life.