The advent of online banking makes it much more convenient for banking customers to manage their finances. It also means that we could all be potential victims to hackers and evil-doers lurking in the open web space.

Plus, many of us have several financial accounts, making it a troublesome task to remember the plethora of usernames and passwords. One common mistake is using the same usernames and the same passwords across multiple accounts that extend beyond just financial accounts but also E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other recreational accounts.

These passwords are the keys that open the doors to your hard-earned money, so they should be difficult for anyone else to decipher and each password should be unique to each account.

What Doesn’t Make a Good Passwordonline banking safety image

The playful approach of putting “password0” as your password is foolish, to say the least. Hackers employ software that initially input words found in a dictionary in an attempt to crack your password. Personal identifiable information such as your name, spouse’s name, pet’s name, birthday, hometown or phone number easily can be obtained and should not be included as part of your password.

A good password should be unrecognizable to anyone who sees it. A strong password would be difficult to remember without copying it down. The optimal password should look somewhat like what your baby child would type while fiddling with your computer’s keyboard.

Create Your Own Unique Passwords

The minimum password requirements for most financial accounts may include:

● at least 6-8 characters in length

● must have both lowercase and uppercase letters

● must have both letters and numbers

● no special symbols (!, @, #, $, %, etc.)

Use a universal phrase or word that is in each password but differentiate the passwords for your bank accounts by tacking on characters unique to each account or website. To strengthen your passwords, yours should have a length of 10 or more characters and alternate between lowercase letters, uppercase letters and numbers.

There is no limit to your password coding methods. Here are some examples that can help spark some ideas for your own passwords:

1. Change letters to numbers where possible.

Let’s say the keyword was “chilidog”. You could replace the “i”s with “1”s and the “o” with the number “0”. Alternate the capitalization and throw in the first three capitalized letters of the domain name of the site.

So the password to log into a Chase Checking account would be “cH1l1D0gCHA”. For a TD Bank account, the password would be “cH1l1D0gTDB”.

2. Use the first letters of the words in a familiar phrase.

Let’s say the key phrase was “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You take only the first letters of each word in the phrase and implement alternate capitalization. Add your age to it and tack on the first three capitalized letters of the domain name of the site. Every year you will need to change your password which is a bonus from a security standpoint.

So the password to log into an Ally Savings account would be “oMtIaMt25ALL”. For a Discover credit card account, the password would be “oMtIaMt25DIS”.

3. Use a random password generator.

There are plenty of websites that will randomly generate a strong password for you. These passwords are often difficult to remember, especially if you get a unique one for each bank account. Many people opt to use a password manager program so that one master password is needed.

Two sample 11-character passwords from a password generator were “MuzeMUt4KeQ” and “7RapHupr8y9.”

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  • I personally use KeePass, which is a password wallet that can store all of your randomly generated passwords for you. Instead, you only have to remember one, really good password, and you can easily use different passwords for different site without worrying about forgetting them all.