As ID crooks continue to hunt down our personal data using increasingly sophisticated scams, it’s essential that we work hard to make sure our passwords are as safe as possible.
When it comes to choosing passwords, many of us fall prey to not wanting to have to remember something too difficult – convenience over complexity.
Bad habits include using the same password for several different uses, or using easily guessable passwords. If you do this, then you could be rolling out the welcome mat to a cyber-thief.
If a fraudster does get access to your personal data, then any password that includes your first name, surname, birthday, home town, wifeís name, childís name, petís name and so on could potentially be fair game.
It is best to try and make your passwords complex- something memorable for you but hard to guess even for the kind of specialised software the cybercriminals use.
One way is to start using combinations of letters, numbers and symbols ñ for example, initials of memorable words ñ to create a short sentence, not entirely unlike a text message. This would then become a suitable nonsense phrase that you can remember.
For example ëDavid Brentís bank account at Nat Westí could become ì[email protected]î ñ a phrase that even dictionary software would find extremely tough as it contains no real words. Or something like ëtottenham 61í could become ëtott61enhamí.
Itís also an idea to keep separate email addresses when you register for online services, in addition to using separate passwords. Itís free to get webmail from several different providers. And try to keep antivirus and firewall protection on your home and work computers as up to date as possible.
Always remember never to give out data if prompted by ëphishingí emails.
Here are Experianís top tips for dealing with phishing emails:
– Remember that companies are highly unlikely to ask for confidential data via email, so treat any request you receive with suspicion.
– Never respond directly to emails asking for confidential data.
– Get in touch with the organisation the email supposedly comes from to warn them.
– Don’t use the number on the fake email or website – search for the organisation’s own website instead and use the contact details listed there.
With a free 30-day trial of Experian CreditExpert you can check your credit report as often as you like to help protect yourself from the threat of identity and financial fraud. CreditExpert will alert you to credit report changes such as a new credit application, and also includes ID fraud insurance.