You may have heard the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
This couldn’t be more true when it comes to identity theft. The steps you need to take to prevent identity theft are incredibly small compared to the steps you would need to take to fix it if it happens to you.
The passwords you use for your online accounts are one important piece of your online identity. While you may be tempted to use your kids name, pets name, or birthday, these are not recommended.
To maximize your password safety, below are some recommended tips.
- Combine capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in one password.
- Every account that needs a password, should have a unique password.
- Change passwords at least once a year.
Why do people struggle with these recommendations?
There are just too many accounts that need passwords! It is so much easier to choose one password we can easily remember and use it over and over. But, I for one do not want to deal with identity theft. I’ve had to deal with someone using my credit card number and that was bad enough. The idea of someone having access to my entire online world and even my actual identity is overwhelming.
So, I’ve decided to apply an “ounce of prevention” and created a printable for myself, which you can download below. This printable has all the information I need for all of my accounts.
I have one taped behind a cupboard door, and one in my grab-and-go binder. In an emergency I will take the desk copy with me as well for security reasons!
Password tip: Choose an odd word from the dictionary that begins with the same letter as your account. For example, for your Amazon account, you might choose the word “Ardvark” or “Addendum” etc.
Then choose 2 letters to make into capitals, change one letter to a number and one to a symbol. If the word is short, it is recommended to repeat it twice.
For the word ardvark I might come up with something like: @rDvaR7A9dVAr#. Addendum might look like: adDe7dU! These passwords are tough for others to guess, but sometimes a bit easier for you to remember.
Digital password options
Since writing this post, I’ve had quite a few people write in and ask if there is an online password system that I recommend. I did not plan on trying a digital option, but curiosity got the best of me.
After researching for a few months and trying a few, I am in love with Dashlane.
It is free, and has a paid version with some more features, but free is fine for my needs.
Dashlane securely stores passwords as well financial information. It will also autofill online forms for you with your important details like name, address, and phone. Since I started using it, I have been saving so much time logging into accounts / hitting “forgot password” links and filling in forms.
I’ve been able to update my passwords (I just do each one when I have to log in) to extremely secure passwords that no one will ever guess. I just have to remember my main Dashlane access password and change it often. You can also synch it among all of your devices.
Bitwarden and LastPass are other options as well.
Download the password tracker
Even if you decide to opt for a digital password tracker, I still highly recommend keeping your most critical passwords written as well. If you have hit the road due to an emergency or if you lose power you will not be able to access the digital password keeper.
So, definitely print out the tracker below and at least keep track of your financial and medical account passwords.
Print out as many of this password printable that you need and rite down all the important information for each account. You might also consider giving a copy to a trusted family member in case of house fire etc.
The password tracker PDF can be downloaded and printed. It is a standard sheet size for easy printing on standard paper sizes. Click here to download the PDF.