Consumer Alert: Protect online accounts with extra security

Most New Jersey residents have multiple online accounts with access to very sensitive information. 

Experts say a great way to protect that information from criminals is to use two-factor or multifactor authentication.

"Two-factor authentication makes sure that if you lose your password, or it's stolen, a criminal can't get into your account," says Consumer Reports electronics editor Jerry Belinson.

Two-factor authentication basically requires two passwords to log into an account. That second password typically is sent to a user's mobile device.

Users would enter their usual password into the account and would then be asked to put in a temporary security code. That code is sent to the user's cellphone or email, something only they should have access to. The user then enters the temporary code into the site to enter the account.

There are smartphone apps available that send rotating codes every 30 seconds, for added security.

Belinson says multifactor authentication is especially important on things like email.

"If someone can log into your email account, they can change every other password. You know, I forgot my password, send it to my email account. So it's really an important thing to do," Belinson says.

Experts say multifactor authentication is also important for anyone who protects their passwords with an encrypted password manager, because if someone gets access to that manager, they can have all of the user's passwords.

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