contributed….Mauston, April 5, 2013 – Every three seconds someone has their identity stolen.

One way this happens is by having username and passwords compromised.  In many cases, usernames and passwords are our first defense in protecting our online identity; if someone has your username and password, they can ‘be’ you on the internet.  The best thing you can do to prevent this from happening is to adopt good password practices.  As convenient as it is to use simple, easy-to-remember passwords (12345, abc123, password, etc.), this same simplicity makes it easier for cybercriminals to guess or hack your password.  To make your password more secure, here are some tips:

  1. 1.     Make it complex – The stronger the password, the harder it is to guess or crack.  Avoid using personal information for passwords that can be found on social media sites or other public information websites (ex. telephone numbers, birth dates, children’s’ names, etc.).

Here are some complex password tips:

  • Include a variety of CAPITAL letters and lower case letters
  • Make it at least ten to fifteen characters long
  • Avoid words that can be found in the dictionary
  • Include at least one number and, preferably, a symbol

We know that a password that is long is also hard to remember.  To help make a complex, but memorable password, we suggest that you consider using a sentence and then simplify it.

For example: My son Tom and my daughter Ann are the greatest kids in Mauston
My(M)son(s)Tom(T)and(&)my(m)daughter(d)Ann(A)are(a)the(t)greatest(g)kids(k)in(i)Mauston (53948) = MsT&mdAatgki53948

  1. 2.     Safeguarding your username/password(s) - It’s not enough to have a complex password; you also need to ensure that no one has access to it.  Here are some tips to safeguard that information:
  • Avoid writing your password down.  You wouldn’t lock a door and then leave the key lying nearby.  Treat your online account passwords the same way.
  • Use different passwords for different online accounts.  If one of your accounts is compromised, it makes it harder for identity thieves to access your other accounts if the passwords are different.
  • Never give your password to anyone else.  If someone needs your password to access information, type it for them yourself.  If you receive an email or phone call from a person asking for your password, don’t give it to him/her.  Call the company the person claims to represent directly and ask why the organization needs it.  Usually, the company representative will tell you the organization didn’t initiate the email or call.
  • Avoid accessing your accounts from public computers.
  1. 3.     Updating your password – Changing your password periodically is also good practice.  It not only is a good security measure, but you can make sure that all the password recovery information your online company has for you is up-to-date.  Some tips to remember when updating your information include:
  • If a company requires a verification answer before sending you a new password, use a false answer. (For example, the verification answer is the name of your first born.  Make up an answer that a hacker couldn’t guess, but you can remember.)
  • If a company offers text message verification, use it.  (Some companies will text you when you request a password change, and when you respond to the text, they reset the password.)  This is a good way of ensuring that you were the one who wanted the password changed, and not a cybercriminal.
    To keep your identity as safe as possible, remember one rule of thumb that you should always follow: If you believe your identity or password has been compromised, change all your passwords immediately!

At The Bank of Mauston we want you to be safe while online.  Be sure to use these tips to protect your online identity and help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.   For more information on protecting your identity, or on how The Bank of Mauston can help you safeguard your financial information, call 608-847-6200 or visit bankofmauston.com.