JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You've likely seen Facebook posts asking you about your firstborn child, your senior year of high school or asking about your mom. Beware before you share! A lot of the answers to these questions are challenge questions for bank information.
The Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau says people are asked about the street they grew up on or their oldest child's middle name. The BBB says while you may have fun reminiscing with your friends, you could be putting yourself at risk.
The average person has dozens of online accounts: banks, credit cards, shopping sites, doctors, utilities, content providers, cloud storage, and much more. All someone has to do is go to one of your accounts, click on "forgot password," and then use the information you shared on Facebook to answer challenge questions. That person can then reset your password and then access your account.
Strong passwords are important
The BBB says many people with multiple accounts take a dangerous shortcut and use the same password over and over again. Or worse, they use something simple like “123456” (the most common password) or even the word “password” (the second most common). Don't do it. This makes it easy for a hacker to steal your data or even your identity.
Better Business Bureau and the National Cyber Security Alliance offer the following advice to make your passwords safer:
Make passwords long and strong: Don’t use a single word; try a phrase or a jumble of words that only means something to you. Mix upper and lower case letters, add numbers in random places, add a symbol. Don’t create passwords based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed, such as your mother’s maiden name or your dog’s name.
Secure your passwords: Keep a written list of passwords in a safe place, not on or near your computer or smart phone. Consider sharing the location of your passwords with one trusted individual, in case of emergency. Never share your passwords with friends, and especially not with someone who contacts you (scammers often pose as a bank, IRS agent, etc.).
Password-protect your devices: Make sure your smart phone, lap top and tablet have “long and strong” passwords to access the home screen. Adjust the settings so the devices switch to lock mode after a minute or two without input.
Change your passwords regularly: Yes, it’s a pain to change and then remember all your passwords, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your private information safe. Consider doing it at least every six months.