Protect your identity and protect your money
by Don Ireland
Update Your Arsenal Against Identity Theft
Children and Identity Theft
Protecting your identity is a big part of protecting your money. The following should help you to do just that.
The problem with passwords is that they need to be something that you can remember. But too often, people use something like their birth date, their mother's name or something simple. It's relatively simple for most any computer programmer to create a program that will try nearly every imaginable password. However, if you use a random string of numbers and letters, good luck remembering it!
Instead of using "passwords," create a "passcode," which would be a sentence that you can remember and then "do something" to that sentence to make a shorter string. For example:
I went to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
I love my three children.
My 2 children love soccer.
Jennifer was my first girlfriend.
Some websites are more secure than other websites. If you use the same passwords (passcode) at every site you visit (or even a variation of the same one) and if a less secure site is compromised, you're potentially exposed even on the more secure sites. Try taking your "standard password" and making a variation based on what site you're at. For example, for banking sites, add two characters representing the bank's name in the second position of your password. Let's assume your "standard password" is Jwm1stgf and you're at the Bank of America site. Your password would be JBAwm1stgf. For computer general web forums, you might put the special characters in the third place. Therefore, using the same "standard password," if you're at the phpfreaks.com website, your password might become JwPFm1stgf. I'm sure you get the idea.
Most password protected websites these days have a mechanism to retrieve/reset your password if you've forgotten what your password is. Many of those use a question and answer system via which you answer a question ahead of time. When you use this mechanism, you have to provide the same answer to this question that you gave previously.
Some of those allow you the option to create your own question and answer combination yourself. These are my favorite because all too often, the questions they provide aren't very secure (such as "What is your mother's name" or "Where were you born"). One site I use has six questions available and none of them are really valid for me, so I basically had to make up an answer. If I forget what answer I gave and remember the password, I won't be able to get in.
If they permit you to create your own Q&A combination, choose something that will be extremely difficult to guess, and if you can do so and remember the answer, misspell a word or substitute a number in place of a letter. Some samples are below.
My first boyfriend's name was....
My first girlfriend's name was.....
My best friend's eldest daughter's first name is....
My first car was a....
This article is also available at DonIreland.com.
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