According to a report from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), an estimated 17.6 million Americans were the victims of identity theft in 2014. The good news is that 85 percent of Americans also took actions to prevent identity theft, such as changing passwords on financial accounts.
With so many online apps and services, we can accumulate all kinds of usernames and passwords. Of course, the trouble with passwords is that we can easily forget them. Many people create passwords that are easy to remember, such as their spouse’s name or their child’s birth date. Hackers can easily discover this information and use it to steal your identity and more.
Tips to Keep Passwords Safe and Secure
Here are four helpful tips to keep your passwords safe and secure:
- Keep your passwords to yourself. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to not share your passwords with other people. If you have to write them down, make sure you store the list in a secret, private place. (That means not on a post-it note under your keyboard!)
- Create passwords based on easy phrases you can remember. You can use the first letter of each word and substitute symbols for certain words or letters (like ‘@’ for ‘at’ or ‘$’ for ‘s’). If you use the phrase “I got married at city hall in 1975,” your password could look like “Igm@chi1975”. This method can help produce a complex password that’s more secure.
- Use a different password for each account. If one of your accounts was compromised, at least hackers won’t be able to get to your other accounts.
- Change your passwords often. Set reminders to change your passwords at least once every 60 days, and don’t reuse them for at least a year.
Remember, a strong, complex password is your first line of defense and may help protect you from a security breach that could cause a major disruption to your life.
Image Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory
As Earth Day marks its 45th year in support of environmental protection, it’s a good time for members and retirees to think about their energy usage, and its possible added cost during retirement.
When you’re working, you may be more likely to turn off certain appliances or set your thermostat to a lower temperature while you’re out of the house. You do this to save energy and keep your utility costs low.
But, once you’ve retired, the time once spent at the office may now be spent primarily at home, resulting in an additional 40 hours of energy use a week as you use appliances, heating/cooling systems, and more. With some careful planning and changes in behavior, you can make sure your utility costs are manageable and fit your post-retirement budget.
Helpful Tips for Energy Saving
To help reduce energy consumption during retirement, we’d like to share some tips courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Here are some things you can do in your home right now:
In Your Kitchen
- Set the refrigerator temperature between 38 Farenheit (F) and 42 F
- Set the freezer temperature between 0 F and 5 F
- Microwave whenever you can
- Wash and dry only full loads
- Wash with warm water instead of hot
- Rinse with cold water instead of warm
In Your Bathroom
- Install a low-flow shower head
- Reduce the volume of water in your toilet tank
- Shut off the sink while brushing your teeth
The DEC has more tips you can use to make environmentally-responsible choices in your daily life. You can also visit the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for information on making your home energy efficient.
NYSLRS Is Doing Its Part
Here at NYSLRS, we’re actively seeking opportunities to reduce our energy footprint and utilize renewable resources. Some of what we’ve accomplished includes:
- Purchasing 25 percent of the energy we use from renewable sources.
- Printing publications on paper that is at least 30 percent post-consumer waste (PCW).
- Publishing newsletters that are now 100 percent PCW, and moving towards 100 percent PCW on all of our printed publications.
- Moving toward using soy-based inks, rather than petroleum-based.
- Transitioning to two-sided printing and expanding the use of environmentally friendly printers, and
- Implementing a scanning system that has markedly reduced our paper files.