According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), approximately 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, and identify theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. is sharing 7 key tips on password protection.

Passwords serve as the first form of security against cyber criminals who want access to your email accounts and pull sensitive information like social security number, credit card numbers, bank account information, driver’s license/ passport numbers, birth date, and more.

Creating a password that is “uncrackable” (not susceptible to a hacker) is the most important factor in protecting your online accounts.

Here are some useful tips from for secure and effective passwords:

1. Avoid basic words. Words that you can find in a dictionary, even if written backwards, in another language, or with a simple number following the word are definite no-nos. Hackers have password-cracking tools that predict commonly used words.

2. Avoid using personal information. Passwords that include your name or username, birthday, favorite sports team or TV show can be guessed by anybody who knows you.

3. Size Matters. Choose passwords that are at least 8-14 characters long and use a combination of upper case letters, special characters (like symbols or punctuation marks), and numerals.

4. Use mnemonics. Try working a mnemonic phrase into your password. For example, “There’s no place like home” would be translated into “TNPLH.”

5. Change your passwords often. Online financial accounts should be changed every 1-2 months, while other passwords should be changed every 3-4 months. Consider making a note in your calendar to remind yourself of these tasks.

6. Use different passwords for each website. Avoid repeating passwords or similar patterns because this increases the vulnerability of your online accounts.

7. Keep your passwords secret. Don’t share your passwords with friends or family members. The best place to store your passwords is either in your head or in a locked safe. Certainly do not store your passwords on your computer or mobile device; this is the first place that cyber criminals will search. will also help you keep track of your online privacy settings and ensure that your personal information, including passwords, are not exposed to the world.