The British branch of Equifax, one of the three large credit bureaus in the U.S., has warned that, in general, consumers do not have enough passwords to critical accounts and do not change the ones they have often enough.
Initially, it was reported that personal details for over 70 million PlayStation users around the world had been hacked into– including passwords, PINs and other personal details. In the wake of the reported compromise of consumer data at Sony, Equifax reported a survey it had taken that indicated that many consumers rely on a small number of PINs and passwords for all their financial accounts.
“Fraudsters only need three items of personal information to be able to steal an individual's identity” explained Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax in the U.K. “Yet, in a survey we conducted amongst consumers, nearly a third (32%) claimed they use just one to three 3 PIN codes or passwords for all of their debit or credit cards and online accounts. That means that astute fraudsters could potentially get lucky and be able to gain access to all of an individual's finances,” he said.
“Even more staggering is the fact that 76% of respondents to our survey confirmed they use their mothers’ maiden name as a password or prompt. This is such a known default option that really no one should be using this anymore.”
“Of course, we completely appreciate how difficult it is to remember a multitude of passwords and PINs but we really do strongly encourage consumers to avoid keeping to just one or two because, when an incident like the Sony PlayStation incident occurs, it makes them that much more vulnerable,” he added.