Last night I met up with colleagues from a job I had at the Software Publishers Association (now called the Software & Information Industry Association). Most of us worked technology jobs in our careers and one of my colleagues wanted to know what I thought about the “security experts” telling us to never put all of our pass codes in one place. I recently posted a blog on why it’s important and teach classes encouraging people to put this information in one place.
It’s easy for the IT guy or the security expert to tell us to not have them in one place. However, I’m not sure this is practical in the realm that I focus. In your home and your personal life, the likelihood that someone would break in and steal your usernames and pass codes is very, very, very low. The biggest risk you have is that a family member would use them to steal or snoop on you. If you have that possibility, then you might want to keep the list locked up or hide them and tell only those individuals you would trust to step in and use the information if you ever needed their help.
In your personal life, there is no IT support that can access your email and give access to someone else if something should happen to you. The Terms and Conditions of the user agreements you accepted preclude the ability of others, even with a “Digital Durable Power of Attorney” from accessing those accounts. Google launched an “inactive account manager” that lets you set up notification and access for others if your account hasn’t been used in three months, however, that is a long time to wait for access if you need to reset a bill pay pass code.
I stand by my recommendation. Having walked in the shoes of the person that stepped in to help when a loved one was unable to manage their own affairs, I hope you will consider documenting your usernames and pass codes — and ask everyone in your household to do the same. Convinced.
This is a topic that is near and dear to me. Related stories include:
The Digital Keys to your Estate
The Dirty Remnants of your Digital Footprint