How to Create a Strong Password

The first line of defense you have against scammers is a strong password. Each password you have secures your accounts. Scammers want the confidential financial and personal information locked behind your password. Keep them at bay with a strong password.

Elements of a Strong Password

The strength of a password varies based on the length, uniqueness, and lack of personal information. When you combine the elements below, you can create a password that keeps your accounts secure.

Length. Usually, the minimum password length is around 6-8 characters. Try to avoid just doing the minimum. Instead, come up with a password that has the maximum of characters allowed. The longer the password, the more secure your account is.

Avoid single word passwords. Scammers can easily guess passwords that are one word. Especially if those passwords are common. Common passwords that are easily guessed are:

  • password
  • qwerty
  • 123456
  • 111111

Use passphrases. Passwords are misleading because you should avoid using single word passwords. Instead, you should lean towards a passphrase. A passphrase is a string of words to make a longer password. For example, steer clear of using the word basketball42 as your password, and make it stronger by adding other words, like marchmadnessbasketball4life. A password like that will take longer to get.

Don’t use personal information. If anyone guesses your password just by knowing a few facts about you, then it’s a poor password. Using a password that has information about your name, your address, your phone number, etc. makes it easier for scammers to get in. Plus, once they have that information, they can start guessing the answers to security questions and more since you’ve given them answers hidden within your password.

Use letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s the trifecta. Using all three will create a unique password just for you. Even a common password like “password” can be turned into: P@s$w0rd. Adding a combo of uppercase and lowercase letters, swapping out symbols for letters, and throwing in a few numbers creates a stronger password.

To create a strong password, it should have at least 3 of these elements, if not all.

Secure Your Password

Congrats! You have made a strong password. While this will stop scammers in their tracks, there is still some heavy lifting you can do on your part to help keep your password secure.

  1. Don’t tell anyone. Your password is yours and yours alone. The only people who should have access to your account is you. Even if you trust your family and friends, do not share your password with them.
  2. Don’t write it down. The best way to compromise the integrity of your password is to write it down somewhere where everyone can see it. This includes the “notes” app on your phone because, like it or not, people can get into our phones. Instead, look into a password manager that keeps your passwords secure and locked down.
  3. Don’t repeat passwords. Yes, that means every account login you have should have a different password. If a scammer gets the one password you use for all of your accounts, they now have access to all of your accounts.
  4. Update essential passwords frequently. Our work makes us do it, so why don’t we follow that practice? Updating our passwords frequently, especially for important accounts like financial accounts, email, bill payment portals, etc., keeps scammers guessing.
  5. Use multistep authentication. While it is an extra step for you to log in, it’s another layer of security. If a scammer gets ahold of your password, unless they have access to your email or phone, they can’t get access to your account due to this extra step.

Next time you create a password, ask yourself, “How can I make it stronger?” This will save you the headache of worrying about identity fraud later.