How much time did it take you to think up your online passwords? If you’re like most online users, not nearly enough. According to PC Magazine, the word “password” was the most popular password in 2007, followed by “123456” and qwerty.” These are not the most original passwords anyone could easily guess these letters and numbers. And criminals do just that – every year, hackers correctly guess thousands of passwords, gaining access to bank accounts, credit card statements, and other personal documents.
Fortunately, you can protect yourself from fraud and identity theft by creating a secure password. First, think of a sentence you can easily remember. It might be a favorite quote from a movie, a line from your wedding vows, or even the punch line of a joke.
First, try misspelling some of the words in the sentence. Forget all of the spelling lessons you learned over the years, because this is the one-time you will be rewarded for your bad spelling. If a criminal happens to guess your password, she will enter to get to the other side” the system – and she will gain access to your personal information.
By purposely misspelling several words in your pass phrase, you decrease the chances of a criminal figuring it out. With all the possible ways to spell “chicken,” a criminal might never guess that you decided to add an extra “K.” By misspelling some words in the example pass phrase, it becomes “too get to the other slide.” Next, put that “Shift” key to work. Avoid capitalizing grammatically correct, but it is also easy to guess.
Try capitalizing the last letter of each word, or convert every t” in your sentence to uppercase. Or you can create a pattern by alternating between capitalizing the last letter of a word and the first letter of a word. The pass phrase Lastly, add numbers and symbols to your pass phrase. Your goal is to tum a recognizable word into gibberish. To create a password you can easily remember, use symbols that closely resemble letters.
The number “3” looks like the letter “E,” and the plus sign “”resembles the letter “T.” And don’t forget punctuation symbols. Brackets, quotation marks, and colons are rarely used in passwords – making them the perfect addition to your secure pass phrase.
By adding numbers and symbols, the final pass phrase becomes to0 G3t  +he 0+heR Slide!”. Once you have taken your simple pass phrase and changed it into a complicated string of letters, numbers, and symbols, head over to Microsoft’s website.
At microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/checker.mspx, you can use the Password Checker to test the strength of your password. The ratings range from Weak to Best. Aim for the Best rating; if your password scores lower than Strong, head back to the keyboard and try again. The pass phrase “to0 Gzt  +he 0+heR Slide!” scored a Best rating.
So now you have a sentence that can stump even the cleverest of criminals. But what do you do if the system doesn’t accept your password? Some websites impose length restrictions – passwords can be no longer than 20 characters. Other sites do not allow spaces in passwords.
If the system does not accept your password, consider turning it into a mnemonic. A mnemonic is a device that helps people remember complicated phrases and lists. Take combine these letters into a new – and unrecognizable – word. The pass phrase to get to the other side “becomes tattos” Mnemonics make great passwords because they do not resemble any known word in the English language.
Criminals will have a hard time guessing these random strings of letters, but you can recall them as easily as your address. If a criminal steals your password, he could open a new credit card account in your name. He could transfer money out of your bank account. He could even apply for a mortgage, jeopardizing your credit rating and your financial well-being.
Stop criminals before they cause any permanent damage to your finances. Check your credit card statements and bank records on a regular basis, and report any errors immediately. And avoid the temptation to use a simple password. Those stars, brackets, and misspellings can help protect your money and your financial future.