Don’t make it any easier for identity theft criminals
Last updated at 13:00, Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Fraudsters in the UK illegally traded more than 12 million pieces of personal information online between January and April this year.
The figure represents a threefold increase on 2010, when only 9.5 million pieces of information were traded illegally throughout the entire year.
The research, which was carried out by Experian, indicates that the increase was partly due to consumers having a growing number of online accounts.
It is difficult to find someone who does not have an online account of some sorts nowadays, whether it is for social networking, emails, banking or utility bills.
However, the recent rise in online accounts has meant that internet users are now reusing the same passwords, making them an easy target for fraudsters.
The average Briton now has 26 separate online logins, but just five different passwords to keep them secure, and the number is set to grow, with nearly one in five people (17 per cent ) signing up to six or more new online accounts every month.
Remembering a huge number of different passwords is simply impossible for most of us, but using the same password, for instance, across an email account and an online banking account can leave people vulnerable to hackers.
Twenty-five per cent of people questioned use one password for the majority of online accounts and four per cent of people use the same login details for all of their online accounts.
For this reason, account login details and passwords are hugely desired by fraudsters, with sales of such details outnumbering credit card details by nine to one.
The research also highlighted that two thirds of people have online accounts they no longer use but have not closed down, leaving them vulnerable to fraud.
Once a fraudster has your passwords it is much easier for them to carry out identity theft and obtain credit in your name. If your identity is stolen, it could lead to you being refused credit cards or mobile phone contracts.
Here are five tips to help you make your passwords more secure:
- An ideal password should contain a mix of letters and numbers.
- Don’t use the same password for everything. Cyber criminals steal passwords on websites with very little security, and then they try to use that same password and user name in more secure environments.
- Never use personal information such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name, as this information could easily be obtained by other means.
- Change your passwords often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites on a regular basis.
- Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.
First published at 14:09, Friday, 17 August 2012
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk