At Crystal Financial, we’re all about protecting our valued clients and colleagues. In our last blog in this series on protecting yourself from fraudsters, we talked about the IP PIN.  Now that we are in the holiday season, many folks are shopping online and wonder how they can protect themselves from cybercriminals while shopping.

One of the most reliable ways to protect yourself when shopping online is to maintain strong passwords. Research shows that the average person has at least 100 online accounts. Surprisingly, many people use the same or similar password for each of their accounts. Others use simple passwords like 12345 that are easy for potential fraudsters to guess.

Many experts recommend using a password manager tool. These tools keep track of all your passwords and you only need to remember one password to access the tool. In addition, the password manager tool will let you know if any of your passwords have been compromised or are weak and will change your password to a complex, strong one. 

If you choose not to use a password manager tool, make sure each of your passwords is unique and complex. Don’t use your name, any of your family names, your birthplace, or any other easily accessible information as your password. Instead, use words and symbols that don’t make sense like “polkadot&elephant.”  You should also use a different password for each online account.    

To learn if any of your passwords have been compromised, check this or this site. When you enter your email address on either of these sites, it will report any breaches associated with that email address. If you see a breach on one of your accounts, you are strongly encouraged to change your username and password on all of your online accounts. 

Don’t let identify fraud or stolen credit cards ruin your holiday cheer this season! Follow the above guidelines to keep your information safe and make sure your holiday stays happy and stress-free. Have questions about protecting your identity online? Please reach out so we can chat more!

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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