Consumer advice: Ways to safely manage your online passwords

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With criminals finding more ways to tap into our personal information to steal our identity, information and money, it’s no wonder we’re constantly being reminded that we need to change, update and not use the same passwords across multiple accounts.

Further advice tells us to use passwords with numbers, letters and symbols for optimal protection.

But here’s a recurring question I get from readers: “How am I supposed to remember all those passwords?”

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there are some free and cheap tools available to secure, store and manage your passwords in one place.

Here are a few I came across in PC Magazine:

DashLane: This is a free service that comes with basic capabilities. However, if you want a premium package with more features it will cost you around $59 per year. Basically, DashLane generates a new master password for you every day so all your accounts stay locked down. According to PC Magazine, the user experience is smooth and easy to use. Info: www.dashlane.com

LastPass: This is another highly rated password manager that you can check out at www.lastpass.com. LastPass allows you to store multiple complicated passwords for websites and have one point of access, so you have only one password to remember. There’s a free version as well as a premium version for $3 per month with more options.

Sticky Password: This one is a little more expensive at about $39 for one year or $119 for a lifetime subscription, but PC Magazine does rate it one of the top password management services. This service doesn’t provide online access to passwords as an extra safety precaution, so your passwords never leave your home network. Check it out: www.stickypassword.com

Logme Once: This is a password manager that offers a unique and convenient feature, compatibility across Windows, Mac and Android operating systems. Logme Once allows you to track stolen devices as long as you have the app installed. There’s a free version, $1 per month and $3.25 per month versions, which means you get more included features. See: www.logmeonce.com

Proponents say using a password management system is smarter than using the same password for all your accounts. A big advantage to these programs is there is only one password for you to remember while the system takes care of the rest.

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WORK FROM HOME SCAM: Working from home has its advantages and scammers know this, too. Many of us would welcome the chance to earn thousands of dollars a month while working from home. Turns out a company called My Online Business Education (MOBE) was promoting what the FTC is calling a bogus online business opportunity to retirees and veterans, among others. As a result, the FTC filed a lawsuit against MOBE last June.

MOBE claimed you could start your own business working from home and rake in a lot of money by following their 21-step program. Some of their websites were advertising earnings from $5,000 to $20,000 or more per month.

Here are a couple of MOBEs’ outlandish statements in their advertising: “Discover how a poisoned brain-damaged man rakes in a 6-figure income from home and how you can too, guaranteed.” The pitch to older consumers and retirees is a so-called “Surefire Way to Create a Six-Figure Retirement Income in Less Than 12 Months.”

Despite these claims, most people who paid for the online business training made little to no money. The only ones who made the money were the owners of MOBE, because what they were really selling were more MOBE memberships.

According to the FTC, MOBE collected more than $125 million from the customers they ripped off. Another shocking discovery buried in the fine-print was the acknowledgment by the company that “average” consultants generate less than $250 per year.

So if you’re considering working from home, here are three warning signs to watch out for:

• A guarantee that you can make a lot of money,

• Promises that you can make money quickly and easily, and

• The use of high pressure sales tactics like saying you’ll miss out on this opportunity if you don’t buy right now.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you come across someone selling a business opportunity that you think is a scam, report it on the FTC’s website at https://www.ftc.gov or call 877-382-4357.

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Also remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m a fulltime copywriter working with businesses on marketing, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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