Albuquerque Real Estate with Joe Brooks

October 8, 2008

Important Safety Tips from Joe Brooks

Filed under: News — Tags: — joebrookshomes @ 6:21 pm


Better safe than sorry. This month’s edition is all about protecting yourself! After all, if you don’t make sure your accounts and information are safe… who will? And in today’s hyper-technical world where everything from bank accounts to business communications are available online, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to make sure you create strong, unique passwords. The article below describes the characteristics of secure passwords and provides a step-by-step formula for creating them.
Making sure your credit card accounts are safe is another important step to protecting yourself. Especially, when you consider a new scam that criminals are using to charge money on your accounts… even if your cards are safely tucked in your wallet. Read the article below to make sure you know how to look for and guard against this new credit card scam.
This information is important for everyone, so please forward these articles on to your friends, coworkers and family members. And if you need any help or advice, please call or email any time.

 Passwords are crucial to accessing your personal accounts and information. The problem is: We all have so many accounts that we worry more about remembering our passwords than we do about making sure they actually protect our data from hackers. So we end up using passwords like our mother’s maiden name or child’s first name. But even if you add a few numbers to the end, those types of passwords are easy to break. And that means your data isn’t safe.
The tips below can help you avoid the most common password pitfalls and even implement a few new ideas that will make your passwords easy to remember…and hard to break!
Strength Training
A well-protected password is not only unique, but also hard to guess. How do you do that? It’s pretty simple really. Just follow this advice:
Use a random string of characters. That means no sequential letters or numbers. None.

Make it looooong. The longer the better–even up to as many as 10 to 14 characters.

Switch things up. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, along with a few numbers mixed in the middle or end.

Don’t use substitutes. Using “@” for “a” or “1” for “I” may look good to you, but most hackers are smart enough to break those substitutes rather quickly.

Avoid easy targets like words straight out of the dictionary or things like family names and birthdays.
Multiplication Facts
Most of us cheat when it comes to passwords. We have trouble remembering our passwords, so we come up with two or three that we can remember and use them everywhere. But you should avoid the temptation. The fact is, once a password is compromised, all of your accounts are vulnerable. There’s no way around it, you need a way to create and remember multiple passwords–a different one for each account!
Sure-Fire Technique for Memorable, Unique Passwords
For all the advice above, good passwords come down to two things: they’re easy for you to remember, and they’re hard to break. Implementing the tips above can make your passwords hard to break, but what about remembering them–especially if you have a unique password for every account? Here’s a sure-fire tip to help!
1. Think up a phrase. Instead of a common word or family member name, think up a unique phrase that only you know. For example, you may think up something off the wall such as “I Like Short Hair Too.”
2. Make it an acronym. In our example, “I Like Short Hair Too” would become ILSHT.
3. Add Complexity. Remember those substitutes you’re not supposed to use with dictionary words? Well, you CAN use them with your acronym. For example, “I Like Short Hair Too” can become “1 Like $hort Hair 2” which makes: 1L$H2. You can also use upper and lower letters to make it 1L$h2. The point is to be creative, but in a way that you can easily remember it.
4. Make it unique. A password is only really unique if you use it for one account and one account only. So you can’t just use 1L$h2 for every account. And, in reality it’s still too short. Here’s the key to the whole process: Mix in additional letters and numbers that are unique to each account. For example, if you’re logging into a “gmail account” you can use the “gm” and “@cct” (for acct) to make: 1L$h2gM@cct. Then, for a Netflix account, you may use: 1L$h2Nf@cct.
Of course, these are just examples. You’ll want to be creative and think up your own acronym and ways to add unique characters for each account. And then keep that little secret to yourself so no one will be able to guess your account passwords.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll have passwords that are tough to break, unique to every account, and easy to remember!

 We’ve all heard about high tech online and email scams that are used by criminals to trick consumers out of their money. But now, some scammers are relying on good old low-tech skills to steal money from consumers… sometimes without being detected for months!
Authorities are reporting increased “credit card shaving” activity. Credit card shaving–or resurfacing–occurs when a criminal essentially creates a duplicate credit card using numbers from other cards.
Here’s how it works…
Criminals obtain valid credit card numbers (either by purchasing a list of numbers from a black market dealer or by stealing numbers from other sources, such as financial paperwork). Then, criminals use a razor blade to shave the raised numbers off of expired credit cards or gift cards. Once the numbers are off, criminals re-arrange those numbers into the order of a valid credit card number and glue them back onto a clean-shaven card. Finally, the criminals use a knife or a pen to scratch the magnetic strip on the back of the newly created card, so that store clerks have to enter the number manually rather than swipe the card.
It’s all very low-tech, but very effective! Especially, when you consider that the victims have no idea they’re even being robbed. And why should they? Their actual credit cards haven’t been stolen… they’re safe and sound in a wallet or purse.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
First, spread the word about this type of crime. That means telling your friends, family members, and even your local merchants. Experts agree that the best line of defense is at the store register. After all, these card numbers need to be entered manually by a store clerk. If the clerk is perceptive and takes a minute to inspect cards for evidence of mismatched and crooked numbers or even traces of glue, many of these types of crimes could be stopped before they begin.
Second, monitor your accounts. All too often, people file their credit card bills or check card statements without really inspecting them. To help protect yourself, make sure you take a few minutes to examine what charges are listed. If anything looks remotely suspicious, look into it. You can start by checking it against your recent purchases, and if anything looks suspect, get in touch with your credit card company and the merchant for help in tracking down the issue.

 The material contained in this newsletter has been prepared by an independent third-party provider. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, financial, real estate and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee it is not without errors.

As your Trusted Advisor, I always want to make sure you are clear on all details of the home buying or selling process. If you or someone you know are interested in purchasing or selling a home, give me a call today!


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