You probably have more than one or two online accounts with other financial institutions or services you manage remotely, like your city utilities or energy bill. These websites probably store information about you that you want to keep private. The first line of defense in keeping your data secure is YOU!
Over the years, hackers and scammers have developed methods of compromising your password. Some fraudsters purchase passwords on the dark web or use brute force attacks to submit passwords repeatedly until they guess it correctly. Fraudsters call people and trick the person into giving out information that allows access to online banking accounts. So with all of these different tactics for stealing passwords, how can you make sure your login credentials remain secure.
- Stop using the same old passwords. If you have used the same password for more than five years, you should assume that a fraudster compromised it. So it's good to change your passwords often. If you were using the same password on multiple sites, you should update your other passwords.
- Make sure your password is long and random. If you are using a one-word password with numbers that are consecutive or match your phone number or birth date, you have a password that is easy to guess in a brute force attack. Try using a password with a minimum of 12 characters. Use a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lower case letters.
- Don't use obvious dictionary words or a combination of dictionary words alone. Break up your word choice with symbols and numbers but don't use apparent substitutions like "0" for "o." Try using numbers and symbols between the letters in your words. For example, if you use Grizzlybear because it is your favorite animal, make it more complicated by using a symbol between the words and capitalizing every fourth letter. So your password might look like this: grizZly^beAr. Another method for coming up with a random and long password is to think of a sentence that is easy to remember. Here is an example, "I love chocolate syrup on two scoops of ice cream in the summer." Use the first letter of each word in your sentence to make up your password, and if the word spells out a number, then use the numerical character. Then come up with a pattern for capitalization, such as capitalize every third letter. Therefore your password would be ilCso2soIciTs.
- Stop using passwords that match phone numbers, email address, birth date, account information, name, family member names, or pet names. Passwords that are easy to figure out about you by searching online or asking the right questions are never good choices.
- Create a unique login ID too! Like passwords, login IDs should not match your account number, phone number, or Social Security Number. While we stress the importance of a strong password often, you should put the same effort into creating a unique login ID.
Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters and make sure you use unique passwords and strong login IDs for all your online accounts.