Suggestions from fellow subscribers make remembering complicated computer passwords a breeze: Internet ScamBusters #226
Today we have some more excellent advice from subscribers. We're really pleased with all of the wonderful suggestions you send! You'll find interesting ideas about:
- Creating Computer Passwords
- Photocopiers and Doctors' Offices
- ATM Machines and Advice for Canadians
- Pump and Dump Stock Scams
- Hitman and Extortion Scams
Let's get started...
Creating Computer Passwords
We got a lot of good advice from subscribers in response to our article How to Create Good Passwords, which is the last Snippet on this page.
Here are three of the best ones.
This suggestion comes from Richard:
One trick I use for passwords that you didn't mention is to think of a phrase that is easy to remember -- preferably using numbers somewhere in it.
For example - "I get up at 6:15 but am sometimes late."
Then take the first letter of each word to make the password. Capitals can be used for emphasis. This would result in: Igua615BasL8.
It's easy to remember but doesn't make much sense to anyone else. Keep up the good work.
This suggestion is from Nancy:
Another way to create an "unbreakable" password is to use the initial letters of a phrase or poem. Then capitalize a letter or two in the middle somewhere and toss in a few numbers.
For instance, here's the first line of a poem I had to memorize (too many) years ago in school:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought.
This becomes: Wttsosst
But I can use 2 for "to" -- W2tsosst
And I could count the number of words or syllables and insert that number (10 and 8, respectively) -- W2tsosst8 or W2ts8osst (at the end or in the middle). This way I can remember it.
Keep up the good work!
Finally, Jo Ellen recommends:
I have a system for creating passwords. I use the name of a pet or relative long deceased and then add numbers in back of it that correspond to the letter on the phone.
For example, let's say my pet's name was Fluffy. I could add a dash, and make the first part of the password fl-uffy. Then if I liked birds, I might make the number 24737 (since these are the numbers that spell out the word 'birds' on the phone pad). So the password would be: fl-uffy24737.
The number would make absolutely no sense to someone wanting to steal it.
It is amazing how well this works for me because if I forget the numbers, I just look on the phone pad for it.
Other ideas could be to use an old license plate number that is easy to remember, an old address no one would connect you with (such as Fl-uffy12353southmain), or something that has meaning for you that would not be readily apparent to someone wanting to steal your password.
Editor's Note: Just be sure that your pet's name (or whatever you use) is not a word in the dictionary, since these can be cracked in no time. Adding the dash makes this work (although there are still some systems that don't allow characters like dashes). Even better would be to add some capital letters, like Fl-uFFy24737.
We hope these three suggestions help you create better passwords you can remember.
Photocopiers and Doctors' Offices
This comment comes from Donna in response to our article on: Photocopiers: A New Culprit for Identity Theft.
I had never heard of a hard drive in a copy machine, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised when even our cable boxes have them now.
However, your article failed to mention something that immediately leaped into my mind when I read it. Doctors' offices often copy your driver's license, along with your insurance card. Just think about the identity theft possibilities that aren't even mentioned!
This is really scary!
Editor's Note: Actually, it's even worse. Many doctors' offices routinely ask for Social Security numbers as part of their patient forms. We see this on many of the doctors' forms we are asked to fill out. We NEVER enter our Social Security number, by the way -- and have never encountered a problem by omitting it.
ATM Machines and Advice for Canadians
This suggestion is from Jerry about our article on ATM Theft: 8 Tips to Protect Yourself from the 5 Most Common ATM Scams.
Your photos from the security camera of the phishing credit card from the ATM machine are making their way around. I just got that scam from my friends from Czech Republic, with the change of the text to the Czech language. Good work.
Just to remind our fellow Canadians that if you get a fraudulent email, do not alter anything and forward it to the special RCMP office for their investigation. The addresses are:
Nigerian type fraud letter to: WAFL@phonebusters.com and Any type of Internet fraud: email@example.com
Editor's Note: Canadians will find lots of good fraud info at the PhoneBusters.com website.
Pump and Dump Stock Scams
Here's what Geneva recommends:
How do you think the government finds out about pump & dump emails? It is because some of us take the time to report it. I would love it if you got the word out on how people can do this.
For stock spam, forward the email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For other types of spam, forward it to: email@example.com
We can all help and this is where the authorities get the information, so it's important that we all do our part. Thanks for the great info -- very helpful.
Hitman and Extortion Scams
Advice from Lynn related to the Hitman emails:
I work for the [town name removed] Police Department. We saw a variation of the hitman scam last year.
The individual contacted was told that "they" knew that the person worked for the City of Chicago but was not living there. Since living in Chicago was a requirement of her job, they offered to "not turn her in" for $50,000.
There was a similar "I was hired to bring in proof issue" type statement. There was an "I have the titles from the Recorder of Deeds" etc. type of statement as well.
Then, there was the sympathetic closing of "I don't want to turn you in, because I know why you are hiding in [town name removed] and not living in Chicago, and what happened at your home in Chicago."
They gave pre-paid cell phone numbers to call when the money was gathered and there was a very short time frame to do so.
They put their extortion note on official letterhead and called themselves something like Chicago Bounty Hunters Group.
Fortunately, our victim felt it was better to lose her job if she was "caught" living out of residency than paying off a blackmailer.
Editor's Note: Yes, there are countless variations on these extortion attempts. They can occur via email, phone or snail mail. It is good your victim did not pay the blackmail fee.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!