A strong password can help prevent credit card fraud. But what is a strong password? Check out the tips below. 

1. Keep It Long and Unrelated

Shorter passwords may be easier to remember, but they usually aren’t as secure as longer ones. You should try to make passwords at least 12 to 14 characters long and avoid using full words. To make a password stronger, be sure to include a combination of unrelated, upper and lowercase letters, along with numbers and special characters.

2. Make It Memorable—But Only to You

While a secure password may seem difficult to memorize, it’s possible to make it strong and easy to remember. For example, write a sentence that’s personal to you and use the first letter of each word—along with any numbers and special characters—to create your own memorable password. Example: “I have 2 brothers and 1 sister. Their names are Derek, Tim and Leslie.” becomes “Ih2b&1s.tnaDT&L.” This can be easier to remember than picking random characters, and is usually more secure than simply using the names as a password. 

3. Know When to Use Different Passwords

Once you create a strong password, it might be tempting to use it for all your accounts. And while it may be convenient, it’s like giving the bad guys the keys to the kingdom. If hackers get your password from another account, you could end up giving them access to your bank account or other personal information. And, studies have shown that hackers who find previous passwords have a much easier time deciphering new passwords. Generally, it’s best to keep your passwords for financial accounts separate from anything you use for email or social media.

When people are required to change their password frequently, they often choose weaker passwords or just change an old password slightly. Hackers know this, so if your system requires regular password updates, try to choose something totally new—and strong—when you need to change.

4. Let Technology Lead the Way

If you’re not a password expert—and few of us are—it might be a good idea to explore password management apps. There are a number of tools that can help you create stronger passwords, store them and even tell you how strong or weak your passwords are. Some apps even create random passwords for all your accounts that are protected by a strong master password. 

Another way to help keep your information safe is using multifactor authentication like SwiftIDSM by Capital One. Basically, this adds another level of security by requiring a different piece of information in addition to your password. These secondary factors could be a security question, a code sent to your phone or even your fingerprint. And when you’re setting up security questions, try not to go for an answer that can easily be found, like your mother’s maiden name. It’s usually best to format these answers like strong passwords.

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