How do you manage passwords? This can be a challenging task if you have accounts for social media and emails, manage bank accounts online, shop at several sites and subscribe to news sites and more. March is Fraud Prevention Month and specifically, March 15 is National Password Day.

The Password Day initiative is spearheaded by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Mainland BC and is part of Fraud Prevention Month. The BBB is taking this opportunity to remind consumers and businesses password security is critical to protecting yourself online.

Before we begin, While Consumer Protection BC supports Fraud Prevention Month activities, fraud is not something that falls within our regulatory authority. We would like to credit Get Cyber Safe for the information provided in this blog post.

Why do I need to protect my passwords?

Your passwords act as locks to your personal information. When you exercise best practices to protect your passwords, you may be able to minimize the potential risk of fraud and identity theft.

Tips for making strong passwords

When was the last time you changed your passwords? Get Cyber Safe recommends creating passwords that are unique for every one of your online accounts. Also don’t forget to password-protect all your devices: computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure it’s a minimum length of eight characters.
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters and at least one number.
  • Include at least one character that isn’t a letter or number.
  • Be creative. Use the first letter of each word of a memorable sentence or phrase, then make it even tougher by changing some of the letters to numbers (e.g. use a “3” to replace an “e”).
  • Try a mix of your pet’s name, your favourite numbers, the street you grew up on or other combinations.

What not to use in your passwords

  • Never use your name, birthday, driver’s license or passport number.
  • Commit your passwords to memory and don’t store them on your computer or in your mobile phone.
  • Change your passwords often. It’s the easiest thing you can do.
  • If a website or browser asks to keep you signed in, unclick that option and take the time to re-enter your password each time.
  • Clear your browsing history or cache after online banking and shopping.
  • If you get an email that includes a password you’ve just set up, delete it.
  • Make sure sites are secure before you enter your password.
  • Avoid using a single dictionary word.
  • Stay away from things like words spelled backwards, misspelled words, and abbreviations that are easy to figure out.
  • Don’t repeat numbers (5555) and letters (bbbb), include simple sequences (abcdefg or 56789) or use letters that appear in a row on your keyboard (qwerty).
  • Make sure that you change your smartphone’s original default password.
  • Change your passwords after implementing a fix or following being compromised.
  • Use different passwords for different online accounts, especially those dealing with sensitive or financial information (banking online). 

If you need to report fraud

Despite all your efforts, if you become a victim of fraud, it is important to report it. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, it is estimated that less than 5% of the total number of fraud victims report their experiences to law enforcement agencies. By reporting fraud, you provide law enforcement with the information they need to stop fraudsters and help prevent others from becoming victims. The information you provide is important! To report fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

We hope this information was helpful!


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