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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > July 2015 > Are you password protected?

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Are you password protected?

Today, passwords are needed for everything from email to bank accounts. Strong passwords are essential to protecting your information and your money. On the other hand, weak passwords can unlock a treasure trove of both personal and financial information about you for anyone to see.
A strong password is one that is difficult for hackers and scammers to guess. A weak password is one that is easy to guess. Examples of commonly used weak passwords are “123456” and the word “password.” While both of these passwords are easy to remember, they also are easy to guess.   
To create a complex password, use at least eight characters and a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, stay away from easy-to-guess passwords, such as your child’s name, birthdate, or address. 
An easy way to create a complex password is to use the first letter of each word in a familiar phrase, and add a number at the end. For example, if you used the phrase, “I married my wife Sally in 1985!” your password would be, “ImmwSi1985!” Now you have a password that’s easy to remember but hard for potential hackers to guess.
Never use the same password for multiple websites. If a hacker discovers a password used for one account, the hacker could use that password to access other accounts that use the same password. Additionally, it may be helpful to keep passwords written down, but be sure to store them in a safe place away from your computer.  
In addition to creating strong passwords, consider using “two-factor authentication” to help protect your accounts. Two-factor authentication requires a password and another step to verify your identity. For instance, some websites require a password and then an answer to a question, such as “What is your current zip code?” This adds a second line of defense.
Along with passwords, mobile device passcodes are extremely important. Many people keep valuable information on devices such as cell phones and tablets. While these portable devices are convenient, they can easily be misplaced or stolen. Putting a passcode on your device will help protect your information should it ever become lost. Also, be leery about storing passwords electronically, especially on mobile devices.
Below are some additional tips to protect yourself:
  • Never give your password to anyone, especially someone who contacts you unexpectedly. Scammers may “phish” for your passwords by calling and pretending to be your bank or a government agency. Know that these entities will likely not call you requesting your password.
  • If you learn that your password has been breached, change your password on other sites where you use the same password. Remember to use a different password for each of your accounts.
  • Update your passwords regularly. This could be as simple as changing the numbers at the end of the password, but keep in mind that passwords shouldn’t remain the same forever.
If you believe you have encountered a scam or unfair business practice, or if you have been the victim of identity theft, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or