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Tips to Keep Your Financial Account Safe and Secure

  |  By Karen Walls

The great thing about technology is that it allows us to access our financial information no matter where we are, which is something that will come in handy as many of us head off on summer vacation. I know I'm looking forward to relaxing at the beach in Cape Cod. But the downside of technology is that it can provide a false sense of security that it’s safe to log in to your financial accounts no matter where you are—like at your beachfront hotel—or what you are doing—stopping by an Internet cafe in Rome.

Before hitting the road this summer, it’s a good idea to make sure your financial account information is up-to-date and that you have a strong password in place. Password strength is vital for account protection and routinely changing your password means that if it should ever fall in the wrong hands, it won’t be of use for very long.

At PENSCO, here are guidelines we provide to our clients to help them create a strong password:

  • Make sure the password is at least eight characters long
  • The password should not contain your user name, real name or company name
  • Be sure the password is significantly different from previous passwords
  • Make sure the password contains characters from each of the following four categories:

Keep in mind that a password might meet all the criteria above and still be a weak password. For example, Hello2U! meets the criteria, but it is weak because it contains a complete word.

You can help remember a strong password by following these tips:

  • Create an acronym from an easy-to-remember piece of information. For example, pick a phrase that is meaningful to you, such as My son's birthday is 12 December, 2004. Using that phrase as your guide, you might use Msbi12/Dec,4 for your password.
  • Substitute numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase. For example, My son's birthday is 12 December, 2004 could become Mi$un's Brthd8iz 12124 (it's OK to use spaces in your password).
  • Relate your password to a favorite hobby or sport. For example, I love to play badminton could become ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n.
  • If you feel you must write down your password in order to remember it, make sure you don't label it as your password, and keep it in a safe place.

Keeping account information safe and secure is a partnership between you and your financial institution. At PENSCO, we do everything we can to ensure accounts are protected from a cyber-security breach. We protect our customers’ personal information behind firewalls and encryption technology, and we do not sell personal information to anyone.

Creating a strong password is a great first line of defense in protecting your information. For additional resources on steps you can take to keep you information secure, you can check out this helpful list from the Federal Trade Commission. You can also follow these steps outlined by Finra, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, to safeguard your account and help to prevent identity theft.