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When To Change Your Passwords?

By Will from Holland

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I'm sure you have seen recommendations to change your passwords frequently, especially if you use online banking, services like PayPal or eBay, or even a webmail service. Okay, you know it's the wise thing to do, but it is also a hassle!

But it's nothing compared to the hassle you'll face if even one of your accounts is hacked. So determine right now if you need to revamp your entire password list. Here are some pointers to help you decide.

You're in trouble, if...

  • you use an airline frequent flyer password as the password for any of your financial accounts (credit card, bank account, account, etc.). Choose a new password for all your accounts. Millions of frequent flyer numbers are flying, literally, all over the Internet. Scammers know to try that password on any account they may have hacked.
  • you use an address from your past or a family member's name as a password. Lists of consumers' former addresses, maiden names and names of family members have been sold for years by major hacking syndicates.
  • you use your email account or social network passwords on any financial account. If so, stop everything, and change those passwords today! Email sites and social network sites are the most hacked sites in the country.

Here's how to make safer (and sometimes easier to remember) passwords:

  • Include letters, numbers and (sometimes) symbols. For instance, combine the first three letters of a friend's name with your neighbor's street address.
  • Make your passwords longer. Use a phrase from a favorite book or article as part of your password.
  • Create random passwords with a password generator tool. There are many available on the web for free. (Check out this one from PC Tools)

Is it worth the work? Yes!

Spend one hour doing changes like these, and you'll probably save weeks of hassles trying to repair your credit and your accounts. Plus, it might save you a bunch of cash!

Cheers, Will.