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How to create a safe password online

Tips for avoiding Internet identity theft



If you’ve ever bought or sold anything online, you’re at risk for identity fraud. Rich or poor, young or old – it doesn’t matter who you are. Any hacker will rob you of your “you” if they have access to your online accounts. How do they get it? Typically by guessing your password.


By using easy-to-guess passwords, such as “password” or your name, you are almost begging to have their identity stolen. You might as well publish your social security number in the newspaper and ask people to open credit card and cell phone accounts in your name.


If you’re thinking, “That could never happen to me,” then you should read these disconcerting statistics:


The Identity Theft Information Center estimates that about 10 million people become victims of online identity fraud each year. That’s 19 thefts every minute. The worst part is that 50% of these thefts are perpetrated by relatives, friends or neighbors of the victim. So you might want to tell your shady second cousin to leave the room the next time you’re bidding on eBay.


Here are some tips for creating strong, hacker-proof passwords:


·         It shouldn’t be a word, but rather a combination of letters and numbers, even symbols.

·         It should be at least seven characters long. The longer it is, the harder it is to break.

·         Don’t use any personal information, such as your name, company name, birth date or username.

·         It should contain a mix of upper and lower case letters and some numbers.

·         Change all your passwords regularly.

·         Avoid common words.

·         Avoid using names of favorite things or close relatives.

·         Never disclose them to other people.

·         Don’t let others watch as you type your password.

·         Don’t recycle passwords or repeatedly use the same word with a number at the end.

·         Never write passwords down. Try using memory tricks to remember them.

·         Never send your password by email or text message.

·         If you think someone else knows it, change it!

If you don’t feel like spending the extra minute to think of a smart password, fine, so be it. Just don’t complain when you have to spend hours and hours on the phone with the credit card companies, trying to get your “you” back.

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