Seven years ago, I was careful.
During one of my trips abroad (there is no way to tell on which one), I used my debit card to purchase something, or to withdraw cash. Six months later, I learned that my “static” account, from which all my monthly bills were automatically withdrawn, was considerably overdrawn. When I looked at my statement, I found that someone had hacked in and figured out my password on the account, and had enjoyed their time in Europe (as a sidebar, I hadn’t even gone to Europe yet) to the tune of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, I caught it in time to work with my bank to remedy the situation, and for a while, was VERY VERY careful to vary my passwords so that they couldn’t be traced.
Then came the teacher laptops at school, and my continued utilization of the Internet softened my resolve, and I became quick to sign up for lots of fun stuff with my email address. I bought stuff too – it was so much better for me to work with a computer screen than to trek to the mall with PEOPLE and circulated air.
The deeper I ventured, the more passwords I needed. Music, education and cooking sites left and right had information on me. Soon, I realized that I couldn’t keep track of all my passwords, so I started to just use the same one for everything. Easy for me to remember.
Read and be informed! This information is valuable enough to help you dodge the possibility of identity theft, and to help you use tools to organize all the passwords you now need to change. Because you do, really, need to change your passwords. RIGHT NOW.
Yours in tough love,