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MAGNOLIA

CLIPPING SERVICE

(60 1) 856·09 11 I (205) 758-861 0

HATTIESBURG AMERICAN

HATTIESBURG , MS

Circulation = 26509

DAILY

02/26/2010

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BILL MOAK

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Select your account passwords carefully

  • I N LIGHT OF THE con­ tinued spread of identity theft, th e BettecBuslness

BU!:.9.~rving Mississippi

warns against using easy or common passwords on ac­ counts.

Consumers also are ca u­ tioned not to u se the same password for multiple ac­ counts. Despite all of the recent in­ formation about the wide­ spread violations of security and stealing of personal infor­ mation, many people still are reacti ng.with a shrug. It

amounts

to playin g into the

hands of

hacke rs and identity

thieves.

Survey says?

. Based on a recen t survey of 32 million passwords that hackers stole in one month from social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.), the following are com­ mon wid ely- us ed passwords found:

.

12345

.

123456

.

1234567

.

12345678

.

123456789

password

iloveyou

iloveu

Abcl23

.

654321

.

111111

.

0

Som e Web sites are forcing users to mix letter, number, and symbols in th eir pass­ words in an attempt to thwart hacke r s.

Vary your passwords

Having commonly used pa sswo rds makes th e hackers' job much easier. The prevalence of fast com­ puter and speedy networks provides them the opportuni­ ty to make thou sands of pass­ word gu esses per minute. It is important to take every preCaution possible' to avoid , being a victim of identity theft.

Even thou gh it may be

somewha t inconvenient, we would encourage everyo ne to use a variety of account pass­ words.

Online settlement

The BBB offers advice on selecting reputable online com pani es for people con­ si dering debt settlement as a solution to excess ive debt. Ask these question s:

Are there minimum re ­

quir em ents set for appli­

cants? Companies that just want to grab business prob­ ably ar en't really concerned about the finan cia l needs of their clients.

What is the cost of the

program? You need to know the cost of services in order to properly det erm in e yo ur debt settl elIjent budget.

How long will it take to compl ete the program? It

generally takes at least 2

years (o ften 3 ), so offers of

completion in leSs time are a definite red flag ,

How mu ch mon ey do they claim to be able to save you? Most online settle­ ment companies offer the ab ili ty to save 40 percent to 60 percent of the client's totai debt. Be su re to calcu­ late your sav in gs by includ ­ ing the settlement service fees .

Is the company accred­ ited by the BBB or TASC (Trade As socia tion of Settle­ ment Companies)?

Bill Moak is president of the Better Business Bureau of

Mississippi. E-mail h im at