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Don’t Let Weak Passwords Log You Out of Financial Security

February 25, 2013
From Loan Officer Eddie Kirby

From Loan Officer Eddie Kirby

Some of the worst criminals are those you never see, but they can destroy your customers’ financial security and yours, too. Identity thieves. They have many different methods to illegally obtain personal information, but once they have it, they make purchases, run up debt, and leave their victims’ finances in shambles.

One way to minimize the likelihood of online identity theft is by setting strong passwords. You’ve heard this. But what does a strong password really look like?  Here are a few questions to ask – and share with your clients:

1. Does my password include a pet’s name, my kids’ names, or any personal information?  If it does, your password is weak and at risk. The reason? Because they are such common choices, an identity thief can easily ferret them out. For instance, many people have their birthday posted on their Facebook profile and then share with friends of friends. Or they post pictures of their children by name.  You probably don’t realize how much seemingly innocent information is available to hackers.

2. Does my password have recognizable words? Instead, you should always use a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters like ! or # – if the system allows. It’s more difficult and time-consuming to crack these types of passwords.

Internet security experts suggest choosing phrases you can remember. Then create a password out of the first letters of each word. For example, the phrase: “The red house is down the road!” would make the password: TRHIDTR!

3. Do I use my password on multiple accounts?  You know you shouldn’t, but how do you keep track of dozens of log-ins?

On Mac computers, there’s a built-in utility called Keychain Access that stores passwords under a master security phrase. The online publication, Mashable, also recommends several subscription password management services: 1Password, Passpack, and LastPass.

As you work with customers, you will undoubtedly run across online identity theft. But by sharing these tips with customers, and implementing them yourself, you may prevent it from happening in the first place.

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