As you wrap up your year-end finances, don't forget to take a few minutes to change all of your passwords.
The holiday season is a bonanza for fraudsters who are plucking customers' personal and financial data as they shop online. Last year, 15.4 million people were victims of identity theft, resulting in $16 billion of losses, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.
Scammers fatten their wallets at your expense, using your credit card or sign-in credentials at a merchant's website to snap up goods and then sell them on the secondary market. Thieves also often use credentials compromised in one breach to try and crack other accounts.
You can avoid this by making timely updates of all of your account passwords, including the credentials you use to access your investment and banking accounts.
"Normally, the best practice would be to update your passwords every four months," said Michelle Jacko, CEO of Core Compliance & Legal Services, a compliance consulting firm for broker-dealers and other financial services companies.
"If that's too frequent, then once a year is fantastic," she said.
Here are some suggestions for creating an effective password and remembering it.