Never use the same password for multiple accounts, as this makes you extremely vulnerable to cyber-criminals. If you have trouble keeping track of many different passwords, try using password management software that will keep your passwords encrypted to everyone else yet still accessible to you.
According to a recent national study conducted by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, many Americans are not doing all they can to protect themselves from identity theft. This is troubling, since id theft is such a serious crime that can have significant ramifications.The survey found that 45 percent of Americans use the same password for multiple online accounts, 49 percent have not changed their password in the last six months, 21 percent don’t shred any of their personal documents and 52 percent don’t check their credit report annually. However, the threat of identity theft is very real. In fact, four in 10 American adults have been notified within the past year that their information has been compromised.
So, why aren’t consumers more actively protecting their identities? Some people say that defending against theft takes too much time, but actually there are some simple defensive measures that take practically no time at all. And remember, cleaning up the messy consequences of identity theft will take you much longer than it would have to, say, shred that pesky bank account statement.
Here’s how you can give yourself stronger id theft protection:
- Change your passwords: This should be done every three to six months.
- Check your reports: Check your credit report and bank statements for strange activity, and call your bank right away if you notice anything amiss.
- Create stronger passwords: Make your accounts more difficult to hack into by coming up with strong passwords. Your passwords should be at least eight characters long and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Try not to use personal information like your birthday or anniversary as the basis of your password, because thieves will try combinations using this kind of information first. The more random your passwords are, the more protected you will be.
- Register for id theft protection: Identity theft protection services can alert you to certain kinds of activity that may indicate theft. This is valuable, because the sooner you detect the crime, the sooner you can clean up any mess that’s been created.
- Use unique passwords: Never use the same password for multiple accounts, as this makes you extremely vulnerable to cyber-criminals. If you have trouble keeping track of many different passwords, try using password management software that will keep you passwords encrypted to everyone else yet still accessible to you.
Don’t let identity thieves get the best of you because you were too busy to take some simple precautions. Instead, make yourself a difficult target so you know you’ve done everything possible to stay secure.