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Password Warning after ID Fraud Rockets

What happened? 

Criminals bought and sold 12 million pieces of personal data in the first three months of 2012. That's a 300 per cent increase on 2010, according to credit-checking company Experian, leaving internet users increasingly open to fraud and identity theft.

Experian called for people to do more to protect themselves online, saying two-thirds hold accounts that they no longer use. The report showed that the average user has 26 account logins, but shares only five passwords between them, so when one account is hacked; the others with the same password are at risk.

How will it affect you? 

If you use the same password on more than one site, change it now, and definitely change it if one of those sites is hacked. It's hard to remember login details for all the online services you sign up for, so it's worth coming up with a system, whether it's using a password manager, or writing them down, rather than using the same one several times.

What do we think? 

The only surprise here is that the average number of sites we have logins for isn't higher. We imagine our readers will have more than 26 open accounts, even if some of them are no longer being used.

We'd like to see more creative security methods. For example, sites could have the ability to forget you, so if you don't log in for a set time, your information is wiped. Also, sites should start using different types of password, such as questions or photos, so we're not forced to remember complicated passwords or write them down where they can be stolen.

Anything is better than those infuriating CAPTCHA codes which are often impossible to read.